Sexual Assault Lawyer

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California Personal Injury Attorneys for Sexual Assault Victims

Committed to Seeking Justice for Survivors

Surviving assault is painful. Whether in the form of physical violence or threats, harassment, or verbal abuse, it is hard to walk away from an assault incident with the same sense of security you had before. No one deserves to feel this way. 

You may tell yourself that what happened was not a big deal, but it is a big deal, and you are not responsible for any pain, confusion, or trauma you may be experiencing. You deserve to feel safe; we want to help make that possible.

While we cannot undo the harm that you have experienced, the assault victim lawyers at Carpenter & Zuckerman are prepared to fight aggressively for the justice you deserve and the compensation you need to heal—physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

You are not alone in your pursuit of justice—we are here to help. 

If you have survived an assault that affected you physically and/or emotionally, we want to help. Call us at (310) 273-1230 to schedule a free consultation today.

Criminal vs. Civil Assault Cases

In California, an assault occurs when a person threatens or attempts to inflict physical harm on another person, even if there is no physical contact. Battery occurs when there is physical contact. Assault and battery are both considered intentional torts, which are intentional acts that cause harm to another person.  

In a civil personal injury case, the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) requires a plaintiff to prove the following elements in an assault claim:

  • The defendant acted with the intent to cause harmful or offensive contact with the plaintiff, or to place them in fear of such contact.
  • The defendant threatened to touch the plaintiff in a harmful or offensive manner.
  • The plaintiff reasonably believed they were about to be touched in a harmful or offensive manner by the defendant.
  • It reasonably appeared to the plaintiff that they were about to be touched in a harmful or offensive manner by the defendant.
  • The plaintiff did not consent to the defendant’s conduct.
  • The plaintiff was harmed by the defendant’s conduct.
  • The defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff.

Assault can be filed as a criminal charge, a civil action, or both. In the case of both, the civil and criminal legal processes are separate from one another. In other words, the result of a criminal trial for assault will not affect your civil case.

Civil assault cases carry a lower burden of proof than criminal cases. In the criminal court system, the defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” with a unanimous verdict required from all 12 jurors. In contrast, civil cases operate under the standard of “preponderance of evidence,” meaning that a jury only needs to find that there is more than a 50% chance that the claim is true. This lower burden of proof can offer victims a more straightforward path to seeking justice and compensation for their ordeal.

Can I File a Lawsuit Even If There Was No Criminal Prosecution?

If you are a victim of assault or sexual assault, you may be wondering whether you can file a lawsuit even if there is no criminal prosecution. The answer is yes. While criminal charges and civil lawsuits both address acts of misconduct, they are different proceedings. Criminal charges are brought by the government and can result in punishment such as imprisonment. On the other hand, a civil lawsuit brought by the victim is seeking compensation for losses, like pain and suffering. 

If you have been assaulted in California, it is important to speak with an experienced sexual assault victim’s lawyer who can help you assess your case and determine the best course of legal action. A knowledgeable CZ Law attorney can further explain the differences between civil and criminal assault claims.  Call Carpenter & Zuckerman to learn more and discuss your rights.

Does Sexual Assault Differ from Standard Assault?

In terms of how the two types of assault are litigated, there is not much difference; however, sexual assault tends to have a more considerable impact on a person’s life, psychological well-being, sense of safety, and overall stability. While all forms of assault can traumatize a person, sexual assault has proven to have uniquely severe consequences.

This is best demonstrated with statistics, such as: 

  • Around 70% of survivors of sexual abuse experience distress ranging from moderate to severe. This distress rate in survivors is higher than in any other violent offense.
  • Survivors of sexual assault are 10 times more likely to use major drugs and 6 times more likely to use cocaine.
  • 33% of women who have survived rape contemplate suicide, while 13% attempt suicide.
  • 30% of survivors of rape have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder 9 months following the assault.
  • 38% of survivors have problems at work or school, with higher percentages when the incident involved an intimate partner or family member. 
  • 37% of survivors of sexual violence have difficulty in relationships with friends or family, such as trust issues, feeling distant, and frequent arguments.

Trauma resulting from sexual abuse is very complicated and persistent. Its effects can creep into other areas of a person’s life, making familiar routines and gestures feel like massive, intimidating, and harrowing undertakings. It can lead a person to have intense and painful emotional responses to specific words, images, situations, and even scents. 

Because of this, survivors of sexual assault often need considerable time and resources to recover. Unfortunately, trauma cannot be healed with medicine or surgery. The effort it can take to work through sexual trauma can be massive, often involving years of therapy. We work closely with medical experts in cases involving sexual abuse precisely because the healing process can be complicated and can take many years. 

When determining what forms of compensation to pursue and how much, we want to ensure that you will be taken care of regardless of the treatment you need and how much it will cost. Under no circumstances should you be forced into accepting a low settlement—we will fight aggressively for the total compensation you are entitled to.

Compensation for Victims of Assault & Sexual Assault

As with other cases of personal injury, survivors of assault can pursue economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages include those that have an associated dollar amount or value, such as: 

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Ongoing medical care 
  • Property damage

Non-economic damages are those that are subjective and have no clear monetary value, such as: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of society and companionship

Our assault victim attorneys will work closely with experts to determine which damages you can pursue and to what extent. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to the various forms of compensation referenced above. 

To schedule a FREE consultation, call (310) 273-1230 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout California and Washington, with offices in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Koreatown, Orange County (Garden Grove), San Diego, Bakersfield, and Seattle.