Massachusetts Sexual Assault Injuries

The statistics related to sexual assault in the United States are harrowing. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds in our country. While both men and women can be victims of sexual assault, the rate of sexual assault is high amongst women, with one in six women being a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. While sexual assault can result in criminal penalties against the perpetrator, a victim may also bring a civil action for sexual assault, too. Here’s what you should know about your legal rights if you’re a victim of sexual assault—

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault refers to a broad category of violent actions related to sex. These actions might include, but are not limited to, rape, attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, or forcing a victim to perform sexual acts. If a defendant is named in a criminal sexual assault case, the prosecution will have the burden of proving that the defendant committed a crime as defined in Massachusetts code; for civil cases, the burden of proof is lowered and the plaintiff does not need to prove that a specific criminal code was violated. 

Civil Remedies for Sexual Assault 

In addition to facing criminal penalties, a perpetrator who commits an act of sexual assault may also face civil penalties. Types of damages that may be available to a plaintiff/victim in a sexual assault case include:

  • Compensation for physical injuries suffered by the victim, such as the costs of medical expenses related to treatment for assault-related injuries
  • Compensation for emotional pain and suffering experienced by the victim, including the value of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. 
  • Compensation for any mental health services related to pain and suffering
  • Compensation for the value of any other economic or noneconomic losses suffered by the victim, such as the value of lost wages if the victim is unable to return to work due to the assault

What Does a Victim Need to Prove in a Sexual Assault Case?

In a sexual assault case, the victim has the burden of proving that the sexual assault took place and that the victim suffered harm as a result. The burden of proof in a civil suit is by a preponderance of the evidence, which essentially means that the evidence suggests it is more likely than not that the assault took place. In addition to a civil action directly against the perpetrator, the victim may also have a claim against a third party whose negligence contributed to the assault, such as the owner of a property who failed to maintain adequate security. 

Call Tetzel Law Today

If you have been a victim of sexual assault, there may be civil remedies available to you. At Tetzel Law, our Massachusetts personal injury lawyer understands how difficult it may be to speak up and how sensitive these matters are. We’ll exercise the utmost discretion in managing your case and advice for your best interests. Call today at (617) 742-1700 for your free consultation or send us a confidential message online today.