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Suing for Childhood Sexual Abuse in Nevada

The results of various studies suggest that victims of childhood sexual abuse rarely see justice done to their attackers. The reasons for this are as sad as they are complex. Very young victims may not understand that they have been abused, may be afraid of speaking up, or may simply lack the vocabulary to express what has happened. Abusers may be otherwise trusted friends or family members who escape discovery by carefully maintaining a veneer of respectability. But when victims grow up they do not need to accept what happened to them when they were young without fighting back.

Nevada is one of many states that has adopted a special statute of limitations for civil lawsuits brought against perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse. Statutes of limitations set strict deadlines by which a lawsuit must be filed to be valid. For many civil causes of action, like negligence, Nevada’s statute of limitations is two years from the time the plaintiff knew about his or her injury.

In recognition of the special nature of childhood sexual abuse, Nevada has extended the statute of limitations that applies to causes of action that arise from it. Under NRS 11.215, a victim of childhood sexual abuse must file a civil suit within the later of twenty years of reaching the age of 18, or within 20 years of discovering that an injury, such as psychological trauma, was caused by the abuse. This latter provision provides recourse for individuals who only recall their abuse through the assistance of a therapist.

Nevada law defines “sexual abuse” broadly. In addition to the sort of behavior that need not be described, it includes behavior that is done “with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of [the] person.” NRS 201.230(1)(a). The laws governing sexual abuse are criminal statutes, meaning that the perpetrator may be prosecuted and sent to prison for an extended period if convicted. Unfortunately, in many instances the lack of evidence makes criminal prosecution less likely.

Even if prosecutors do not pursue a case the victim of childhood sexual assault should consider filing a civil lawsuit. Quite often the victim has suffered a range of long-term psychological consequences following the abuse, for which they should be compensated. To recover damages in civil court a victim of sexual abuse must be able to show by clear and convincing evidence that the abuse occurred.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation. We understand that childhood sexual abuse is a complex and difficult topic. Our firm is committed to providing every client with personal, caring attention. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Suing for Sexual Assault in Nevada

Suing for Sexual Assault in Nevada

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.