With sexual assault cases, most of us picture a court case against the assailant. However, victims can also bring third-party claims in some cases. For example, the actions (or inactions) of a property owner, employer, or someone else might have contributed to the assault.
As the victim of a sexual assault, you could have a personal injury claim against someone. For you to have a valid case, there must be a breach of duty. Let’s look at what that means.
Duty of Care in Sexual Assault Cases
All injury claims start with establishing a “duty of care.” Someone has a duty to act in a way that doesn’t bring harm to others. For example, property owners and businesses have a duty of care to maintain safe premises.
Demonstrating duty of care is the first step in proving negligence (a legal term for carelessness).
A negligence claim must prove that:
- The defendant (the person you’re bringing a case against) owed you a duty of care to keep you safe.
- The defendant breached their duty of care.
- The breached duty led to your physical or emotional injuries.
- You suffered injuries and damages because of the breached duty.
In a sexual assault case, the defendant didn’t necessarily cause the harm directly. The person who assaulted you is primarily responsible for the assault that occurred. However, you could have a third-party claim against someone who failed to keep you safe.
It’s best to speak with a personal injury lawyer after a sexual assault on someone’s property. You’ll want to know all of your legal options, whether you plan to take action or not. A lawyer can explain your rights.
Third-Party Claims for Sexual Assault
A case against someone other than the assailant is a third-party claim. Victims might have a third-party claim against parties like:
- Landlords and property owners
- Religious establishments
- Bus drivers
- School administrators
- Boy Scout leaders
- Treatment centers
- Apartment complexes
When an assault happens on someone’s property, negligent security is often involved. The defendant could also be at fault for failing to protect in another way.
Proving a Breach of Duty Led to Sexual Assault
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, breach of duty is a failure to do something for which you’re legally responsible.
Your lawyer will build a case to show that someone breached their legal duty to keep you safe. Third-parties must use reasonable care to protect against risks of sexual assault.
Types of Breach of Duty
Examples of breached duty can include:
- A home healthcare company ignores complaints about an employee abusing clients.
- An apartment building property owner fails to provide adequate security despite knowing about local dangers.
- A company failed to conduct a background check on an employee with a history of sexual assaults.
There are many ways a party might be negligent in a sexual assault case. It’s best to speak with a lawyer who can determine the best course of action for you.
At John Foy & Associates, we know what it takes to build strong cases. After you contact us, we’ll begin investigating immediately. Our team has 20-plus years of experience helping assault survivors seek justice.
To get started with a free, no-risk consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.
Challenges to Proving Breach of Duty
Some defendants will claim that they had no duty of care to the victim. If there is no duty of care, there can’t be a breach of duty. However, we find that many companies are merely trying to avoid liability for what occurred.
It’s best to speak with a lawyer experienced with sexual assault cases as soon as possible. Your attorney can help gather evidence and know the strength of your case. They’ll also protect you from common insurance company tactics against personal injury claims.
A civil case can also be difficult for assault survivors. Recounting the experience might have negative emotional consequences for some victims. However, many feel a sense of justice to hold their attacker accountable. It’s important to work with a lawyer who can determine the best steps for your needs.
Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a crime in Georgia. All states prohibit sexual assault, but the definitions vary by location. When someone brings legal action for the sexual assault, it’s a criminal case. These cases may take years to conclude, and they often require strong evidence.
Third-party cases are civil claims. In contrast, civil lawsuits have a lower burden of proof for the victim. Through a personal injury claim, you can seek a settlement through the at-fault party’s insurance claim. You might not need to go to court.
An insurance claim can help victims recover damages sooner, even if they have an active criminal case. According to VAWnet, a project from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, these types of sexual assault claims have been increasing over time.
Bringing a Claim Against the Perpetrator
Victims can usually bring a criminal case against the assailant. If prosecuted, the person can face fines, jail time, and other consequences. However, you can also bring a civil suit against the perpetrator in some cases.
A personal injury claim or lawsuit might be the only way to get financial compensation for what you’ve suffered. You can seek damages for your injuries, emotional harm, and possibly other losses.
To learn more about your rights, contact our sexual assault lawyers.
Don’t Miss the Statute of Limitations
The law allows limited time for an injury victim to bring a case. You have two years to bring a personal injury case in Georgia, according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §9-3-33. If you miss the cutoff, you probably won’t be able to recover damages.
Contact our team today to get started. We’ll make sure you have all of the right information to take action and file within the deadline.
Get a Free Consultation with a Sexual Assault Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one were victims of sexual assault, you could have a personal injury case. Don’t wait to find out your options. Talk to our team at John Foy & Associates for free today. To get a free consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online. We are available 24/7 for you.