Justice Is Possible After Sexual Assault
Sexual abuse and assault are uniquely harmful. The intense trauma of sexual violence can cause both physical and emotional injury that’s hard to recover from. Our criminal justice system’s failure to convict many abusers only adds to the pain. Regardless of whether you tried to pursue a criminal suit or how it turned out, you may have another option—filing a personal injury claim in civil court.
The civil court system is focused on helping those who have been injured by others. Filing a suit will allow you to tell your story and request compensation for the hardships resulting from sexual abuse or assault. It gives you another way to hold a dangerous person accountable. And, though it may not lead to jail time, civil cases often catch the public’s attention, warning off others and leading to social consequences for an abuser.
We understand coming forward with a sexual abuse or assault claim is not easy. However, it can help you move forward and—more importantly—find the justice you deserve. Our team is here to provide compassionate support and tough advocacy if you have a claim for sexual assault or abuse.
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When Can I Bring a Claim for Sexual Assault or Abuse?
If someone involved in you any sexual activity without your consent, you have the right to bring a claim against them. This is true even if they were your partner or spouse at the time. It’s true if they were someone you knew from work, church, or another organization. It’s true whether they were a friend or a stranger.Anyone can be affected by sexual assault regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, or other characteristics.
We are aware of the stigma that often surrounds reports of abuse and come prepared to fight back against individuals’ unfair assumptions. You deserve the chance to tell your story and be believed. No matter the circumstances of sexual assault, our team is here to listen and offer compassionate guidance.
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Why Should I File a Sexual Assault or Abuse Claim?
The criminal justice system is indifferent, at best, toward most survivors of sexual assault or abuse. This contributes to the continued silence around sexual violence. If you are hesitant to bring a claim, we absolutely understand.Any conversations you have with our team are completely confidential, and we handle sexual assault and abuse claims with the utmost discretion. You can even speak to us in a free, no-obligation consultation if you’re not sure whether to start the legal process.
We believe all survivors deserve justice and recompense, and filing a claim against your attacker is a step toward achieving this end. There are many ways bringing a claim can benefit you.
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A Greater Chance of Success in Civil Courts
The criminal court system requires an individual’s guilt be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and this high standard of proof can work against the survivors of sexual assault or abuse. In civil court, on the other hand, the plaintiff is only responsible for providing “a preponderance of the evidence,” or presenting a case that is more likely than not to be true. This standard makes it easier for plaintiffs to prevail, especially after crimes like sexual assault that may not leave much evidence.
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Compensation Can Help You Move Forward
Sexual abuse and assault are highly traumatic, often leaving a survivor with mental injuries that are equally or more harmful than the physical effects of the attack. Survivors may find themselves struggling to stay on top of daily demands and care for themselves.
A sexual assault claim allows you to ask for compensation for all losses and expenses stemming from the abuse. Damages may include:
- STI/STD tests and treatment
- Medical treatment of genital or other injuries sustained during an assault
- Mental health treatment for PTSD, depression, and anxiety
- Lost wages
- Chronic pain treatment
- Treatment for substance use disorders developed after an assault
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates rape costs an individual over $100,000 when considering medical expenses, its effects on work and productivity, and the increased potential for substance use. Then, there are unquantifiable losses such as troubled relationships and emotional hardship. You should not have to shoulder this burden on top of everything else.Receiving financial assistance gives you a safety net so you can put your needs first and focus on your recovery.
Exposing Sexual Predators Makes Communities Safer
Especially if the person who assaulted you knew you from work, school, church, or another organization, it’s possible they have hurt many others in the same way. As we’ve seen numerous times, internal accountability practices tend to shield abusers and leave those they hurt with nowhere to turn for help.
Filing a sexual assault or abuse claim alerts the public regarding someone’s predatory nature. Even if they do not face criminal consequences, they may be removed from positions where they can hurt others, and potential targets will know to avoid them. When the problem is institutional, shining light on the issue is often the first step toward meaningful reform.
Your courage in coming forward may also make other survivors feel they can speak up as well. This effect pushed the #MeToo movement to national prominence and led to real consequences for many individuals who committed a string of assaults. In a legal context, when multiple survivors speak up against one person, their testimonies support each other, making it easier to prove wrongdoing. You may end up unknowingly helping others who suffered at the hands of the same abuser.
Maryland’s Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse and Assault Claims
As laws stand in Maryland, a survivor of sexual abuse or assault who was an adult when the abuse happened has three years to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator. Those who were abused as children have until they are age 38 or three years after the conviction of their abuser—whichever is later. However, plaintiffs near the upper end of this range may find it harder to meet the burden of proof.
There is no statute of limitations for criminal charges, which means, in rare cases, survivors of childhood sexual abuse can bring claims even when they are over 38 years of age. Legislators have continually introduced efforts to remove the civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases, but none of these bills have passed. The most recent attempts to change the law were launched in 2021. We hope to see this legislation succeed so everyone has the chance to seek justice, no matter how long ago they were hurt.
If you wish to file a complaint regarding sexual assault or abuse, the statute of limitations is not the only deadline you should be aware of. Students can file a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), but they must do so within 180 days of the assault. Workplace assault and abuse is handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Most claimants in Maryland have 300 days to report. An attorney can clarify which deadlines apply to your case if you wish to report the incident when you file your claim.
As for the civil statute of limitations, your case must be fully filed in time, or it will not be considered. You should reach out to an attorney well in advance of the deadline, so the firm has time to fully investigate, prepare, and file your claim.
Standing Strong with Sexual Assault and Abuse Survivors
Working through the emotional challenges related to sexual assault and abuse takes courage and determination. The same can be said for filing a lawsuit. However, abusers should be held accountable—and you deserve the chance to be heard and receive compensation to help you heal.
Our attorneys are here for you if you’re considering filing a sexual assault or abuse claim. We understand how difficult it can be to talk about past traumas. Every sexual assault claim we take is handled with compassion and discretion. Whether you know you’re ready to file or you just want to learn about your options, our attorneys offer free and confidential consultations. We want to help you find justice.