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Apr 022018
 

Civil Versus Criminal Justice

Victims of sex assault and rape are often surprised to learn that they may have legal rights in the civil justice system, not just the criminal one. In the aftermath of a crime like rape, a victim will proceed with a criminal case, which means a whirlwind of medical treatment, interviews with law enforcement, cooperating with the criminal proceedings, etc. Victims might not learn about their civil legal rights until they see something on tv or read something on the internet.

Civil Lawsuits in Pennsylvania for Rape or Sex Assaults

Pennsylvania victims of rape and other sexual assaults have civil legal rights that are entirely separate from the criminal justice system. Under PA law, the victim of a sex assault or rape can file a civil lawsuit against all parties who are responsible for what occurred.

The key in these types of cases is liability of other parties, not just the criminal perpetrator. Oftentimes, victims of what appear to be completely random crimes may have legal rights against other parties (non-perpetrator parties). Usually, it’s an owner or operator of the area where the crime occurred, such as a parking lot, apartment complex, etc.

In order to win a civil lawsuit for rape or sex assault against a non-perpetrator party, there must be evidence of foreseeability. Was it reasonably foreseeable that the assault would occur? Did something happen in the previous days or weeks?

Example: Tenant Raped in the Parking Lot of Apartment Complex

A Pennsylvania resident has just moved into her new apartment. One evening, she is coming home from work and parks her car in a gated parking lot that’s designated for tenants. As soon as she exits her car, she is attacked in what appears to be a random crime. However, subsequent investigation reveals that a series of escalating assaults had occurred in previous weeks. In each instance, the landlord was notified by police who believed that the perpetrator was getting into the gated parking lot through a broken section of the gate. With poor lighting in the lot at night, the parking lot was a prime target for the perp. Despite knowing of the escalating assaults and the poor lighting, the landlord did nothing.

In this instance, the victim would have a viable lawsuit against the landlord for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent a foreseeable criminal event. Simply fixing the gate, adding appropriate lighting and/or warning tenants of the risk could have prevented the assault.

Financial Compensation in the Civil Justice System

The hallmark of the civil system is financial compensation to right a wrong. This is true of all civil matters, whether it’s a breach of contract action or a lawsuit for sex assault or rape.

Therefore, victims in a civil sex assault lawsuit can receive financial compensation from the defendants. Compensation claims may be made for financial losses like medical and psychological treatment bills or lost wages, in addition to claims for pain and suffering.

Legal Help for Pennsylvania Sex Assault & Rape Victims – FREE CONSULTATIONS

Laffey, Bucci & Kent is a Pennsylvania law firm which focuses on crime victim cases, including sex assault, abuse and rape. Contact our lawyers for a free consultation. 215.399.9255

DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

 

 Posted by on April 2, 2018 Sexual Abuse