If you are active on social media you have undoubtedly seen a woman you know share a story about sexual assault. If you are a woman on social media, you may have even posted your own story about sexual assault. These stories, marked with the hashtag #MeToo, are very intimate and personal. They reflect a very difficult situation. Many times, these stories explain the physical and/or emotional damage that was caused by the sexual assault. In Los Angeles, victims of sexual assault may be able to hold their abusers accountable by filing a civil claim for damages.
When can I file a civil sexual assault lawsuit in Los Angeles?
You have a limited amount of time to file a civil lawsuit for sexual assault in Los Angeles. This is because there is something that is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is basically a clock that begins to run when your assault happens. If you want to file a lawsuit you must do so before that clock runs out.
In most cases, you will have two years from the date of your assault to file a civil sexual assault lawsuit. There are limited exceptions to this two-year rule:
Date of Discovery: You have three years from the date you discover the connection between your injury and sexual assault to file a claim.
Sexual Assault of a Minor: If you were a minor at the time of your sexual assault you will have eight years from the date of your 18th birthday to file a claim.
This statute of limitations only applies to civil lawsuits. Sexual assault is also a crime that can be punishable by law. California recently abolished its statute of limitations for rape and serious crimes of sexual assault. If your sexual assault occurred on or after January 1, 2017, your abuser can be tried at any point in the future. If your sexual assault occurred on or before December 31, 2016, your abuser must be charged with sexual assault within ten years of the crime.
How can I prove that I was the victim of sexual assault?
- Your abuser intended to touch you in a sexual way;
- Sexual contact occurred;
- Sexual contact was harmful or offensive;
- You did not consent to the sexual contact; and
- You were harmed in some way.
Many times, it can be difficult to gather evidence to support a claim of sexual assault. This is because many sexual assault cases boil down to the victim’s word vs. the alleged abuser’s word. It is important to gather any evidence that may help to support an allegation of sexual assault. Evidence and information that can be helpful in proving your civil sexual assault case include:
- Eye-witness testimony and reports;
- Police reports*;
- Medical evaluations;
- Expert witness testimony and opinion;
- Videos; and
- Text messages, e-mails, and phone calls.
*Police reports are not admissible as evidence in Los Angeles cases. However, the information contained in a police report can be very helpful. Your attorney can use this information as a basis for an investigation of your sexual assault.
What can I recover in a civil sexual assault lawsuit?
As a victim of sexual assault, you may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are awarded to compensate you for any out-of-pocket expenses you may have because of your injury. Medical bills and reduced earning capacity are common examples of economic damages.
Non-economic damages may be more applicable in sexual assault cases. This is because many victims suffer more emotionally than they do physically. Emotional suffering can be devastating. Non-economic damages can be awarded to help compensate for your suffering. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and embarrassment are common examples of non-economic damages.
Why should I hire an attorney to help me after my Los Angeles sexual assault?
The process of filing a lawsuit can be time-consuming and complicated. You should focus your energy on your own personal recovery. Hiring an attorney will help to give you time to heal. The chances of maximizing the compensation you do receive are greater when you hire an attorney. Contact our Los Angeles office today to schedule a free consultation. We will listen to your story, explain the law, and offer our advice. If you decide to hire us we will get to work on your case immediately.