Although the Harvey Weinstein controversy has made many people more comfortable coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault, it doesn't change the fact that only 7 out of 1,000 cases of sexual assault will actually result in convictions. The only redress available to many victims is to sue for damages in civil court, but what kind of compensation will you win if you go this route? It depends on the specifics of the case. Here's what you need to know.
You're Typically Reimbursed for Compensable Damages
In general, you will almost always be reimbursed for compensable damages, such as medical bills, therapy bills, lost wages, and any other tangible thing that can be measured. For instance, if you had to go to the emergency room for treatment, the person who assaulted you would be ordered to pay your medical bills. As long as you can show the damage or loss was related to the sexual assault and can produce evidence for it (e.g. receipts, invoices), you will typically get your money back.
In addition to the compensable damages and losses you incur in the days or weeks after the assault occurred, you may also be awarded money for future expenses. If you contract an incurable sexually transmitted disease from the perpetrator (e.g. HIV), the judge or jury will typically award you money to pay for your ongoing medical needs. However, it will be up to you to calculate the cost and add it to the lawsuit amount.
Compensation for Intangible Losses May Vary
Things get a little bit murkier when it comes to intangible damages and losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages. Not every intangible loss out there will apply to every situation, and some may be more challenging to obtain than others. For instance, you could sue for loss of future income or reduced earning capacity, but this option is typically only available in cases where the attack left the victim disabled or significantly interfered with the individual's employment prospects (e.g. the plaintiff had to drop out of medical school because of the emotional damage related to the sexual assault).
However, your loved ones may also have recourse to sue the perpetrator for damages as well. Your spouse, for instance, could sue the perpetrator for loss of companionship if your relationship suffered because of the attack. You could also sue for harm done to your fetus or children if the sexual assault harmed them in some way.
It's best to discuss your case with an attorney who can advise you of the type of damages you could get based on the facts of your case. For more information or assistance, contact a law firm like Richards & Minore, P.C..