Those who suffered sexual assault, rape, abuse, or any other form of sexual violence have the right to seek justice under civil law. Regardless of whether the sexual attack was prosecuted in criminal court, the right of victims to obtain recovery and compensation through a sexual assault lawsuit still stands.
If you are a survivor of abuse or assault in the Atlanta area, Georgia law gives you the means to hold a perpetrator accountable and recover compensation for the immense losses you suffered. It is a highly personal, difficult, and courageous decision to take legal action against an offender. At Bey & Associates, we hold the utmost respect for every client who walks through our door ready to fight for justice.
If you believe you are ready, an Atlanta sexual assault lawyer from our law firm can provide compassionate, tireless advocacy, resources, support, and legal counsel.
To learn more about the process of filing a civil claim, please contact us to schedule a free consultation at Bey & Associates law firm in Atlanta, Georgia.
Filing a Sexual Assault Claim in Atlanta, GA
Filing a civil lawsuit with the help of an Atlanta sexual assault lawyer can bring forth a number of positive outcomes for both survivors and future generations. A personal injury claim aims to:
- Achieve justice for survivors.
- Send a powerful message that perpetrators of sexual violence will be held accountable for their actions.
- Provide survivors with financial compensation to cover medical treatment, mental health care costs, lost wages, and more.
- Bar an abuser from the opportunity to inflict harm from a position of power, leadership, or close access to potential victims.
- Shed light on the prevalence of sexual assault cases and sex crimes that go unreported in Atlanta.
- Force property owners to take measures to secure areas in which rape crimes were once allowed to happen.
- Give a choice and a voice to those who were sexually assaulted and may feel powerless over their futures.
Understanding the Rights of Sexual Assault Victims in Georgia
According to statistics published by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, last year in our state there was:
- A rape committed every three hours.
- A human sex trafficking act committed nearly every day.
- A total of 3,076 known incidents of rape.
- The highest number of rapes of the last five years.
While these numbers are shocking, this only represents a fraction of the grim reality.
It’s believed that thousands of incidents of sexual assault, sex abuse, rape, sexual violence, and non-consensual touching go unreported every year.
The criminal justice system can only do so much. Civil law allows a victim to take matters into their own hands. If you suffered the trauma of an unwanted sexual act in Georgia, you do not have to suffer in silence. We understand how difficult it is to speak out, but know that you are not alone.
The Difference Between Criminal Charges and a Civil Lawsuit
Criminal and civil are two separate areas of the law.
Criminal law punishes people for breaking laws established by federal, state, and municipal governments. Crimes are punishable with fines, jail time, and other penalties. If a person commits a sex crime like rape, they can be tried in court and punished if they are convicted. To convict someone of a crime, you must be able to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Civil law handles matters between individuals or groups, typically when one party acts in a way that causes harm to the other party. A civil lawsuit helps victims of injury recover financial compensation for the losses they suffered.
You do not need to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt in a civil case. You only need to prove your case by a “preponderance of evidence”—a standard that simply means you must prove that your claim is more likely true than not. This lower burden of proof can allow victims to win lawsuits, even when criminal law was not successful in convicting the attacker of the crime.
Civil Lawsuits in Sexual Assault Cases
Criminal proceedings may punish the perpetrator for violating a law, but it does nothing to address the victim’s resulting damages.
Survivors of rape and abuse suffer unimaginable trauma and lasting physical, mental, emotional, and financial devastation. Many individuals are left with physical injuries, anxiety, emotional suffering, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A person may suffer the long-term effects of a sexually-transmitted disease. The financial burden of dealing with these injuries is difficult to fathom.
A civil lawsuit works to right these wrongs, to give the victim the opportunity to achieve the highest degree of healing possible.
At Bey & Associates, we understand that not every person has a reason to trust our legal system. The thought of seeking justice through the law may be unimaginable to some. Our attorneys are respectful that the decision to file a lawsuit is yours and yours alone to make—only when and if you feel it is the right choice for you.
If you are interested in speaking with an attorney about your questions and concerns, we will meet with you in a completely free and confidential setting.
What Compensation Is Available in a Sexual Assault Case?
The term “damages” refers to the monetary compensation given to the injured party to address the wrongs they sustained. In sexual assault claims, damages may include:
- Hospital and medical bills
- Lost income due to missed work
- Cost of treating sexually-transmitted diseases
- Mental health care costs
- Pain and suffering
- Physical scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Anxiety, depression, and PTSD
Punitive damages are a form of punishment, rather than a means to compensate specific losses. A court will only award punitive damages in rare cases of extreme wrongdoing. These damages are never applied alone, only in addition to compensatory damages. The goal is to stop harmful behavior and deter other parties from engaging in similar actions.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Sexual Assault Damages?
Your Atlanta sexual assault lawyer will work with you to hold the at-fault party accountable, no matter if it is a single individual or a large organization.
Parties that may be listed as defendants in sexual assault lawsuits include:
- Individual attackers, whether it be a stranger, employer, trusted friend, human trafficker, romantic partner, relative, or acquaintance
- Nursing homes or other medical care facilities
- Schools, universities, or daycares
- Religious organizations
Negligent Security in Sexual Assault Claims
If the attack happened on someone else’s property, premises liability law may allow you to file a claim against a negligent property owner.
For example, if an apartment complex is not equipped with adequate security measures like cameras, working locks, and gates, a landlord or premises owner may be held liable for an assault that happens on the property. Your Atlanta sexual assault attorney from Bey & Associates will help you gather evidence to prove your case.
Depending on where the victim was assaulted, a lawyer may be able to prove negligence on the part of a property or business owner. This includes gas stations, nightclubs, apartment complexes, bars and restaurants, and other public establishments.
How Long Do I Have To File a Sexual Assault Claim in Georgia?
Under most circumstances, the Georgia statute of limitations gives sexual assault victims two years to file a personal injury lawsuit, beginning on the day the victim suffers harm. After the deadline has passed, the victim is no longer eligible to file a civil lawsuit.
There is a different statute of limitations for abuse that occurred during childhood. Georgia law allows survivors of child sexual abuse five years from the age of majority—that is, the individual’s 18th birthday. Once reaching legal adulthood, an individual still has five years to file a civil claim against a person or other responsible parties.
In consideration of the statutes of limitation that apply in Atlanta and throughout Georgia, it is best to begin the process of filing a sexual assault claim as soon as you feel you are ready. These claims take time to build, and your sexual assault attorney will need to devote significant time to gathering physical evidence to support your claim.
This is not a process you want to rush or feel pressured to complete on time. You deserve justice, and you deserve to handle your case on your own terms. If you are ready to move toward recovery through legal action, we invite you to reach out to an Atlanta sexual assault attorney on our team today.
The Effects of Sexual Abuse or Rape on the Survivor
The injuries suffered by someone who was sexually assaulted are severe, varied, and long-lasting. It is not an overstatement to say that every facet of a rape survivor’s life is impacted. While a victim can recover in many ways, their life will never be the same.
Victims of abuse and assault commonly experience effects such as depression, the inability to form intimate relationships, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide.
Contact the Atlanta Sexual Assault Lawyers of Bey & Associates
If you were the victim of an act of sexual aggression, you are far more than what happened to you. Your rights, your healing, and your decision-making capacity are all-important during this time.
The path to recovery looks different for every victim. If you decide you are ready to seek justice, we are here to fight relentlessly on your behalf, both in and out of court.
Our lawyers advocate for victims in and around the Atlanta metropolitan area. Please contact us for a free consultation if you would like to learn more about the legal services we offer.