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Guide to Filing a Lawsuit as a Rape Victim

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If you are the victim of rape, you have the legal right to pursue a civil lawsuit against your assailant or property owner who failed to make their property safe and secure resulting in negligent security. Criminal trials for victims of crime can be very stressful, especially for rape victims in part to the increased scrutiny and the higher standard of evidence necessary to get a conviction. With civil lawsuits, however, there is less scrutiny and you are more likely to receive some damages or compensation. Here is how filing a civil lawsuit as a rape victim works in Florida.

Who Can You Sue?

As the victim, you can file a civil suit against your assailant(s) for financial compensation to pay for any medical bills, therapy, and psychological or mental anguish the same way you could if you were hurt in an accident. For rape, you file lawsuit against them for damages caused by assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and/or false imprisonment. But you can also file a lawsuit against other third parties if their actions, or negligence, directly contributed to the crime, including:

  • Landlords, renters, and innkeepers
  • Employers and businesses
  • Government entities, schools, and hospitals

When filing a lawsuit against such third party groups, you just have to prove that their negligence in security, property maintenance (faulty locks or doors), or hiring and retaining their employee who had known reports of sexual harassment or violence.

What Will The Trial Be Like?

Unlike criminal trials, a civil trial does not focus so much on every minor detail to establish fact or create reasonable doubt. Instead, you just need to show that the actions of your assailant directly caused you physical and psychological harm and so you are entitled to financial compensation in damages. Civil trials for rape victims will generally focus on the following:

  • The physical trauma according to an examining physician who can describe the nature of your physical injuries that you sustained
  • The psychological and mental distress that the assault caused by your therapist as well as personal behaviour witnesses such as friends and family
  • Having an independent forensic-psychiatrist provide the proper outline of the serious impact on the victim’s everyday life

Most states have enacted ‘rape shield laws’ that prevent your sexual history from being brought up in trial. Also, while the matter of alcohol and drugs in your system might come up you will not have nearly the same amount of the scrutiny directly upon you as the victim.

How Does Compensation Work?

The various testimonies from your witnesses and experts will help lay the foundations for the scope of damages you are entitled to. The nature of civil lawsuits of this nature are to establish the physical and psychological trauma you suffered and how much in damages your assailant should pay. The goal of compensation payments is to pay you back as the injured party for the various losses you suffered as a result of the crime, including:

  • Cost of recovery for things like medical bills, therapy sessions, etc
  • Loss of income such as missed work as a result of medical or psychological treatment
  • Pain and suffering

This compensation could also come from any third party found to have been liable for the crime due to their negligence. In addition to any compensation damages that the assailant would have to pay, they could also be forced to make punitive damages as punishment for the negative impact they had on the victim’s life.

If you or someone you know is a victim of a crime due to negligent security, get in touch with a negligent security attorney and ask about a free consultation to get more information about your claim, representation, trial and compensation.

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