If you’ve been the victim of any kind of violent attack, especially a sexual assault, you know how traumatic the experience is. In addition to the physical harm you suffered, you are also dealing with emotional trauma that is harder to see from the outside. When someone attacks you, they have clearly violated the law and need to answer for their crimes. It may feel good to see them put in prison, but that will not take away your pain.
You could be suffering from your attack. Frequent medical and psychological treatment can cause the bills to add up. Now you are dealing with a financial burden on top of a traumatic one. Even though social justice has been served, you need personal justice. Can you sue your attacker when the state has already penalized them? The answer is, yes, you can sue someone who has already been convicted of a crime.
Criminal Court vs. Civil Court
Our justice system is based out of two different courtrooms, criminal and civil. Criminal courts handle matters of law. When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, they face a criminal courtroom. This branch of justice is meant to try crimes against society. Those who are found guilty must pay back their debt to society through incarceration, community service, fines, etc.
A civil courtroom is where one person sues another person for financial compensation. This branch of justice is based on the idea that one person’s behavior caused damage to another person, and that second person deserves money for their trouble. The money awarded in a civil trial is often called “compensation” or “damages.”
Damages can take many forms in a civil courtroom. Sometimes people sue for “pain and suffering.” This claim says that you should be financially compensated for the time you spent experiencing emotional trauma. When sexual abuse is involved, pain and suffering claims become quite clear. It is well documented how a sexual assault can damage the psyche. Continued counseling can become expensive, and you can fold that expense into your claim.
Damages can also be more direct. You might sue to have your medical bills covered, or, in the case of a car crash, to have the repairs paid off. If your injuries caused you to lose work, you can sue for those lost wages. Serious injuries may alter your ability to get new work, so you can sue for the loss of “potential earnings.”
If the assault resulted in a pregnancy, you could ask for compensation if you chose to terminate the pregnancy. This could also lead to more pain and suffering charges. If you choose to keep the baby, there may be a civil claim to help pay for the delivery. It may also be possible to take the matter to family court and ask for child support.
Challenges in Suing Someone Who Has Been Convicted
When you are suing someone who is serving time, it can be a real challenge. There are many obstacles in the process.
First off, the defendant’s availability is limited. In order to appear in court, they need permission. This permission may not be as simple as a warden signing a piece of paper. There may be committees and other people who must clear the inmate’s departure.
Simply locating an inmate can be difficult. Incarcerated people are often shuffled around, moved from facility to facility. Even when they are found, they could be ushered off to a new location before they can get clearance from their current one.
You also must consider what you can receive from an inmate. Unless they were financially secure and had substantial savings before they went to prison, they may have nothing to give. Inmates make little to no money for the jobs they get in prison. Often, they owe fines to the state or money to their attorneys. Even if you easily win the case, your attacker may be financially destitute, making them “litigation proof.”
How to Argue a Personal Injury Case
All personal injury cases, from a slip and fall to a sexual assault, must meet certain criteria. First, the plaintiff must prove that the act in question occurred. Next, they must demonstrate that they were injured. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that their injuries were the result of the defendant’s actions. These actions can be direct or indirect. Direct action would be something like a violent assault or hitting someone with a car. Indirect action would involve something like allowing live wires to be exposed, causing an injury.
In a sexual assault lawsuit, you would need medical and police records to show that the assault took place. Next, you would need evidence of exactly which injuries were sustained in the assault. You would then need strong evidence that the defendant committed the assault. This will be much easier if they have already been convicted in a criminal court. Finally, you will need to request a total amount of money for damages.
You can add together medical bills, counseling bills, lost wages, lost potential earnings, etc. to come up with this total. You can also add pain and suffering compensation to this total. Civil attorneys use something called a “multiplier” to come up with a pain and suffering total. The process is very complicated, but it essentially multiplies your level of pain with a daily total, reaching a dollar amount.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you’ve been violently assaulted by someone who is already in prison, talk to an attorney today. They can help you look at your options and decide if going through with the lawsuit will be valuable. A skilled lawyer can even find ways to make the trial beneficial when it looks like you won’t be able to recover damages.
If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault in Plano or Dallas, call us today at 888-4-ZEN-LAW or contact us online. We care about your situation, and we want to hear your story and help you find justice. Initial consultations are free.