Zealous Advocates For Middle Tennessee Sexual Assault Survivors
If you have been sexually assaulted, it is important to contact a sexual assault lawyer as soon as possible. Sexual assault can have a devastating impact on your life, and it is important to have someone fighting for you. The lawyers of Miller Injury Firm represent individuals in sexual assault cases throughout Middle Tennessee, with offices in Brentwood, Nashville, Murfreesboro and Lebanon. We have experience handling cases related to schools, universities, workplaces and high-profile individuals.
Taking effective legal action against sexual misconduct requires experienced and knowledgeable sexual assault lawyers. Our sexual assault lawyers are committed to providing each client with compassionate representation and personalized attention throughout their case. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, we can help. Our lawyers can enforce your legal rights and pursue a fair resolution to your civil claim.
Sexual Abuse As Grounds For A Personal Injury Claim
Although most personal injury lawsuits and settlement demands stem from negligent conduct that unintentionally causes harm, individuals in Tennessee can also base civil claims on losses sustained due to intentional conduct. Since state criminal courts cannot compel convicted defendants to pay damages to people impacted by their actions in most situations, civil litigation is often the best way for individuals harmed through sexual abuse to recover for their injuries and associated losses.
Importantly, the outcome of a civil case has no formal bearing on the outcome of an associated criminal case. In other words, someone being found civilly liable for sexual assault does not guarantee that person will be convicted of sexual assault in criminal court. However, since the standard of proof for personal injury claims is based on a “preponderance of the evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a conviction for sexual assault in criminal court may support a finding of liability in civil court.
In the same vein, someone who is acquitted of sexual assault charges in criminal court could still be found financially liable in a civil sexual assault case. Our Nashville sexual assault attorneys could offer further clarification about how these types of civil claims work.
Who Can Be Held Liable In Sexual Assault Cases?
The perpetrator isn’t the only party who can be held responsible in these cases. You can also sue their employer or the institution that harbored them – for example, the school, church or other organization. The ability to pursue compensation from organizations with more resources means you have the opportunity for a greater financial recovery than if you just sued the perpetrator alone.
Liability For Sexual Assault In Schools
In addition to the individual who engaged in abusive behavior, civil liability for a sexual assault on school property may also lie with school officials and administrators. These administrators are entrusted with cultivating a safe and secure environment for students and faculty members alike, and if they recklessly or carelessly fail to protect either party from harm, they could be considered negligent and therefore liable for damages.
Circumstances that may justify litigation against a school for failing to adequately prevent sexual assault include:
- Failing to perform background checks before hiring new faculty or staff
- Failing to investigate prior allegations of inappropriate behavior made against faculty or staff
- Not training faculty and staff to recognize and report potentially abusive actions
- Not immediately reporting sexual assault allegations to the police
- Not ensuring that teachers and students cannot be alone together in private
- Failing to take measures to prevent student-on-student sexual violence
- Failing to follow recognized standards of care and protection
- Creating an environment where victims are not heard and actions are repeatedly ignored
In other situations, liability for sexual assault in schools may fall on the shoulders of third parties, such as bus drivers or coaches. These individuals are often given a great deal of responsibility when it comes to the safety and well-being of students, and if they engage in misconduct or allow abuse to take place under their watch, they could be held civilly liable.
Liability For Sexual Assault At Colleges And Universities
Sexual assault at the collegiate level is a pervasive problem, and one that has been making headlines in recent years. Universities may be held civilly liable for sexual assaults that take place on their campuses if it can be proven that the school was negligent in its duties to keep students safe. This negligence could take many different forms, such as:
- Failing to properly investigate sexual assault allegations
- Failing to take action against faculty or staff members who have been accused of sexual misconduct
- Not providing adequate security on campus
- Not properly training employees on how to handle sexual assault allegations
- Allowing known predators to remain on campus
- Creating an environment that is conducive to sexual violence
- Failing to provide support or resources to sexual assault victims
While there is a lot of gray area when it comes to liability for sexual assault at universities, one thing is certain – if a school does not take steps to prevent sexual violence on its campus, it could be held accountable for the consequences.
Liability For Sexual Assault In The Workplace
Sexual assault is a very serious offense and it can affect the entire workplace. Every person has the right to work in an environment free from sexual assault and harassment. Liability for sexual assault or harassment can fall on more people than those directly involved. Many circumstances can cause liability to fall on the workplace as a whole, especially if reports or claims of sexual assault or harassment are not taken seriously by a workplace’s upper management.
If you have been a victim of sexual assault or harassment, it is important to take the necessary legal steps to ensure that you are completely protected from not only an abuser but those who are also liable for the situation. Similar to the circumstances that justify litigation against a school for failing to adequately prevent sexual assault, there are circumstances in place for sexual assault and harassment in the workplace:
- Failure to perform necessary background checks
- Failure to investigate claims, reports, or inappropriate behavior
- Lack of training to recognize inappropriate behavior
- Failure to report assault or harassment to police after becoming aware of the situation
- Failure to put proper safety precautions and measures in place where they are necessary
- Failure to create a safe environment for all employees
Sexual assault and harassment in the workplace are serious offenses that can have a lasting effect on victims. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault or harassment, it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible.
Liability For High-Profile Individual Sexual Assault
Sexual assault by a high-profile individual can have devastating consequences for the victim. In addition to the physical and emotional trauma, victims often face immense public scrutiny and judgment. A high-profile individual can be someone who holds a position of power or influence, such as a celebrity, politician, athlete, business leader, or clergy member. Sexual assault by a high-profile individual often goes unreported because victims are afraid of coming forward. They may fear that they will not be believed or that their attacker will use their position of power to silence them. Circumstances to prevent high-profile individuals from sexual assault and harassment should be in place, but many times they are not. Sexual assault by a high-profile individual can have the following consequences for the victim:
- Public scrutiny and judgment
- Loss of job or career
- Damage to reputation
- Emotional trauma
- Physical injuries
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault by a high-profile individual, it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible. An experienced sexual assault lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and ensure that your attacker is held accountable for their actions.
Recovering Damages After A Sexual Assault
Regardless of the outcome of any associated criminal case, a parent whose child experienced sexual assault, or an adult who experienced sexual abuse as a child, has the right to pursue civil compensation from any person or entity responsible for the harm they or their child sustained. Recoverable damages may include not only objective losses like medical bills and lost work income, but also subjective forms of harm like emotional anguish, physical pain and psychological trauma. Although results are not typical and vary greatly from case to case, the lawyers at Miller Injury Firm have recovered millions of dollars for victims who were sexually abused at school.
Civil Versus Criminal Proceedings For Sexual Assault
A personal injury lawsuit over damages stemming from sexual assault would proceed entirely separately from any criminal case related to the same incident(s). This is primarily because civil cases and criminal cases have different standards of proof that you must meet in order for the court to rule in your favor.
Prosecutors in criminal cases must prove a defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to secure a conviction, which means that they must make a completely inarguable case before the jury that the defendant actually committed the offense they are facing charges for. However, civil cases operate based on a “preponderance of evidence” standard of proof, meaning you must only prove that the defendant was more likely than not responsible for specific compensable damages.
As a result, the outcome of a civil case for sexual abuse generally has no bearing on the outcome of a related criminal case, and a person acquitted of sexual assault in criminal court may still be found liable for financial damages in a separate civil claim. Our Murfreesboro sexual assault attorneys could clarify how these types of cases work in more detail during a confidential consultation.
Filing Deadlines For Sexual Assault Cases In Tennessee
Through a successful civil lawsuit, you may seek financial compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages they suffered as a result of a defendant’s intentionally malicious actions. This means that in addition to objective financial losses like medical bills, you may also seek recovery for subjective losses like physical pain, emotional and psychological trauma, and the impact of conditions like PTSD.
Tennessee Code §28-3-116 sets a filing deadline of one year following the date of injury for most claims involving sexual abuse experienced by an adult, and three years after discovery of abuse experienced by a child. Additionally, the deadline does not apply to sexual assault cases in which the impacted party was a minor at the time they were assaulted. Instead, a prospective plaintiff in a Middle Tennessee school sexual assault claim must file suit – or have a qualified lawyer do so on their behalf – within three years of discovering the abuse, or within three years of the child’s 18th birthday. However, if the assault occurred while the person was age 18 or older, the one-year statutory filing deadline applies.
Missing the deadline could bar your case completely. In light of this, Miller Injury Firm encourages you to contact our sexual abuse lawyers near you about a potential claim sooner rather than later, as failing to adhere to these deadlines often makes civil recovery impossible.
Let Our Sexual Assault Lawyers Fight For You
Sexual assault under any circumstances is an unforgivable offense that can cause extensive and lifelong physical, emotional and psychological harm. Unfortunately, seeking comprehensive civil recovery for these damages can be a daunting and complicated process, especially in the immediate aftermath of an attack.
Our lawyers are here to help you or your loved one get the justice and compensation you deserve. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact us today for a free consultation. You can also call 615-922-5693. Our experienced legal team will fight tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.