Osborne & Francis: Sexual Assault Lawyers Helping Victims Seek Justice
At Osborne & Francis, we understand that no amount of financial compensation can undo the trauma caused by a sexual assault. However, when compensation is available and appropriate, it can help alleviate the secondary effects that make recovering from trauma more difficult. Whether you’ve been left with medical bills, therapy costs, or lost wages from missed work that can come after a sexual assault, lawyers from Osborne & Francis can help you seek justice and obtain compensation. After being sexually assaulted, your first priority should be addressing your needs in a way that starts the healing process. If it feels like a civil suit against those responsible should be a part of your recovery, we’re here to help.
Sexual Assault, Civil Suits and the Courts
Sexual assault is generally defined as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the victim’s explicit consent. This can include rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, or forced sexual acts. Such acts are always criminal offenses, but many sexual assaults go unreported. Since criminal and civil courts treat cases differently, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical and emotional injuries even if the perpetrator of the sexual assault was found not guilty or never tried for the crime. It may be the case that a third party is liable due to negligent security practices or an inadequate background check during their hiring process.
You may feel powerless, but you are not. Following a sexual assault, lawyers from Osborne & Francis can help you fight back, seek justice, and begin moving forward. We understand the sensitive nature of your case and we take the utmost care to protect our clients and keep the legal process from re-victimizing them. Contact us today for a free and confidential case review.
A Sexual Assault Epidemic?
According to RAINN (Rape and Incest National Network), someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the United States. That shocking frequency and the fact that women are more likely to experience sexual violence, result in a society where 1 in 6 women have experienced rape. Women are more at risk during their college-age years, even if they are not students. Women between 18-24 years of age are also less likely to report sexual violence, with only about 1/3rd reporting rapes. Among victims of all ages and genders, 63% of rapes go unreported.
A 2016 study found the total cost of sexual assault in the United States to be $122,461 per victim over each victim’s lifetime. While this figure includes court and incarceration costs, nearly 90% comes from medical costs and lost wages of victims and perpetrators. But this cost is primarily paid by women, since most sexual assaults happen to 18-24 year old women and only 10% are reported, meaning that the vast majority of perpetrators pay no cost whatsoever. Why victims may choose not to report a rape is understandable. We believe that standing up for those who have experienced sexual assault and holding those responsible accountable can help create a society where the majority of these crimes are reported.
A Sexual Assault Attorney Can Determine if Negligence Contributed to Your Assault
A criminal conviction requires that guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but in a civil case the evidential threshold is somewhat lower. So you may be able to hold the individual accountable for your physical and emotional injuries and obtain compensation after being sexually assaulted. A civil jury may also order the defendant to pay punitive damages, this is a damage award that is intended to punish a defendant after a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of others. A sexual assault civil suit against an assailant can provide you with a path to justice even if a criminal court failed to convict.
In most cases, a defendant will have limited financial resources available for compensation. But depending on how and where the assault took place, a third party, such as a business that failed to conduct adequate background checks on their employees, may be liable. The following types of businesses or institutions may be liable if they failed to provide adequate security or safety considerations for their customers.
- Hospital or medical practice
- Nursing home
- School or school system
- Correctional facility or law enforcement agency
- Apartment complex with inadequate security or lighting
- Nightclubs and bars
- Public event venues
- Assailant’s employer (if the assault happened on the premises)
If any of these institutions were involved in your sexual assault, lawyers from Osborne & Francis can help you seek justice and prevent the same negligence from harming anyone else. We’re here to help when the time is right, but if your sexual assault has just occurred, the most importing thing is to make sure that you are safe and receiving proper medical attention.
What To Do Following a Sexual Assault
- Make sure that you’re in a safe place. If you still feel unsafe, reach out to someone you trust for assistance and support./
- Seek medical attention. Even if you think you may not report the sexual assault to law enforcement, you should seek immediate medical attention. In the aftermath of a sexual assault, medical professionals can take steps that will help protect your health. In the hours following a sexual assault, you can take medication to reduce the chances of becoming pregnant or of contracting HIV.
- Preserve evidence. As much as you may want to, you should resist the urge to shower, bathe, brush your teeth, or change clothes before you seek medical attention or report the assault. The attacker likely left behind valuable evidence that would be washed away by a shower. Your clothing will also be saved as evidence when medical professional collect a rape kit. If you need to change clothes, place the clothes you were wearing during the assault in a paper bag and take them with you. In some jurisdictions, medical personnel can collect a “Jane Doe” rape kit that allows you to preserve evidence but make a final decision about officially reporting the assault to law enforcement later.
- Contact law enforcement. Even if you know the person who assaulted you, and if you believe that they don’t think what they did was an assault, rape is always a crime and should be reported. But this is a highly personal decision and we understand why many choose not to report. You don’t have to decide right away, but if you know that you want to report you should contact the police before going to a medical center. This way the police can take your statement quickly and be with you as evidence is collected while you receive medical care.
- Seek out recovery assistance. Recovering from the psychological trauma of a sexual assault takes time, and you shouldn’t have to go through it alone. Find a qualified therapist who has experience in working with the survivors of sexual assault. Lawyers from Osborne and Francis are here to discuss your legal options when you’re ready, but healing from the psychological trauma caused by the attack should be the priority.