A victim of a sexual assault hopefully can rely upon the criminal justice system to provide a degree of compensation for the crime that has been committed. The perpetrator may be ordered to reimburse the victim for expenses related to the assault, including medical expenses, but quite often a sexual assault leaves the victim with the sort of injuries that under Nevada law cannot be compensated by the criminal process. Worse, the perpetrator may not be convicted for a wide range of reasons. As a consequence, the victim of a sexual assault may wish to consider bringing a civil lawsuit against the attacker.
What is sexual assault in Nevada?
Sexual assault is a serious crime, punishable by life imprisonment in Nevada. NRS 200.366 defines sexual assault as forced sexual penetration against the will of the victim or in circumstances where the victim could not resist or understand what was happening. Note that the term “assault” is used differently here than in other contexts, where it covers threats of violence.
Because it is a crime, sexual assault is prosecuted by the state. At the prosecution’s request a criminal court may order the defendant to pay compensation to the victim of a crime for economic damages, such as lost wages, medical expenses, and other easily quantified losses related to the crime. But a criminal court cannot compensate victims of crimes for noneconomic damages, such as their pain, suffering, anxiety, or loss of enjoyment. For these types of damages the victim must pursue a case in civil court.
Pursuing a civil claim of sexual battery
In a civil lawsuit the behaviors that meet the definition of criminal sexual assault are referred to as battery; that is, an intentional, physical attack against the victim. In a civil trial the victim can pursue economic damages as well as noneconomic and punitive damages. In a civil trial the type and amount of damages awarded to the successful plaintiff is usually determined by the jury.
If the civil defendant was also convicted in criminal court that creates a presumption of liability in favor of the plaintiff in the civil context. But even if the criminal court failed to convict the perpetrator, the victim can successfully pursue a civil case. There are a number of advantages to pursuing a civil case against someone who has committed a crime, including control over the sort of arguments raised in court.
GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm
Victims of sexual assault can be wary of pursuing civil action against their attackers. It is especially important for victims to find a compassionate law firm that will take steps to protect them from suffering further harm. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provides caring, personal attention to each of its clients. If you would like to speak to an attorney about your case, please call us today for a free, confidential consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.