Seattle Lawyers Representing Assault Victims
If you have been the victim of a physical or sexual assault, it is an understatement to say that you are probably going through a very difficult time. In addition to recovering from your physical injuries, you must cope with the emotional trauma of the experience. The psychological effects of a physical or sexual assault can be more profound than the physical repercussions. You should speak with an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer about how to pursue compensation for these very serious injuries.
After the assault, your focus may be on seeing your assailant charged with a crime. Under the Revised Code of Washington, Chapter 9A.36, the offender may be charged with assault in the first, second, third or fourth degree. Following a sexual assault, an offender may be charged with rape in the first, second or third degree under Chapter 9A.44.
But the criminal courts are not your only opportunity to obtain justice. When you are injured because of another person’s intentional misconduct, you should work with a personal injury lawyer in King County who specializes in this complicated field to pursue fair and complete compensation for your physical, emotional and financial injuries.
Criminal And Civil Cases Differ
The criminal and civil courts handle different types of cases. In Washington’s criminal courts, people are charged with crimes for violating one or more state laws or local ordinances. In the civil courts, the focus is on whether one party wronged another and caused the victim or injured party physical, emotional and/or financial harm.
Criminal cases are brought by district attorneys, also known as prosecutors, on behalf of a municipality or the state. Civil cases do not involve a prosecutor. They are brought by a private party (called the plaintiff) against another private party, either an individual or business (called the defendant).
If a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony assault in criminal court, they can be punished with fines, incarceration, probation, community service, counseling and more.
If the defendant is found guilty in a civil courtroom, they cannot be incarcerated or otherwise punished. The results of civil cases are almost always monetary awards intended to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries. These awarded damages are typically in two categories – economic losses, such as medical bills and wage loss, and the person’s physical and emotional pain and suffering.
An assault can lead to both criminal and civil cases. These cases are separate, though they can impact one another. Following your assault, the prosecutor decides whether to pursue criminal charges. If you have a meritorious claim, it is your decision whether to file a civil personal injury lawsuit and pursue compensation for your injuries.
It is possible for you to win compensation in a personal injury case after an assault even if the prosecutor does not pursue criminal charges or the defendant is acquitted in court. This is because the burden of proof differs between criminal and civil cases.
In a criminal case, the prosecutor must establish that the other person is guilty of the assault beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard. In a civil courtroom, the burden of proof is lower. You must prove that the other person caused you harm by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you must prove that it is more likely than not that the other person assaulted you and caused your injuries.
Seeking Personal Injury Compensation After An Assault
If you were physically or emotionally harmed following a physical or sexual assault, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle.
If you work with a Seattle personal injury lawyer who represents assault victims, you will have someone to guide you through the civil court process to pursue fair and complete compensation for your injuries.
At Menzer Law Firm, PLLC, we will fight hard for you to receive compensation for your past and future damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced earning capacity
Do Not Assume That Your Assailant Cannot Pay
A common mistake assault victims make is assuming an offender would be unable to pay a significant personal injury award. We recommend talking with one of our personal injury lawyers at Menzer Law before assuming the other party has too little income or assets to pay for your damages. We will look closely into your case and advise you on the likelihood of recovering a monetary judgment.
Should I file a civil lawsuit against my attacker?
Whether or not you file a personal injury lawsuit is up to you. You have to do what’s best for your physical and mental health, and there are many factors to consider. But there are potential benefits to pursuing a civil lawsuit. If you win, the compensation can help you pay for medical care, lost wages, mental health care, relocation and security measures.
Can I sue anyone else for my assault?
Sometimes a party other than the perpetrator, like an employer, property owner, school, coach or insurance company, might also be liable. A benefit of hiring an experienced lawyer is having someone investigate and determine all the parties that may be liable for your injuries.
What if I didn’t go to the police after my assault?
You don’t need a police report regarding the assault to file a personal injury lawsuit. We understand that many sexual assault victims fear going to the police. Keeping silent immediately after a traumatic event is not uncommon. While a law enforcement investigation and report might help a civil claim, it isn’t necessary. Talk with a lawyer about other evidence you can use to pursue compensation, including physical and mental health care records and bills, journal entries, electronic communications and witnesses.
How long do I have to file an assault lawsuit against my attacker?
The Washington statute of limitations for personal injury claims based upon negligence is three years from the date the injuries occurred. If you’re suing based on assault, assault and battery, or false imprisonment, then you have two years from the date of the incident. But it’s better not to wait so long to file. Have an experienced lawyer review your case and calculate the filing deadline as soon as possible.
How do I recover compensation if I win my assault case?
If there is insurance available, then collecting on a settlement or judgment is relatively easy. If there is no insurance available, then collections can be challenging after winning a personal injury award. There are options for enforcement of a settlement or judgment if the defendant doesn’t pay in a lump sum or an agreed-upon payment plan. A lawyer can assist you with the process of placing liens on or seizing valuable assets and garnishing bank accounts and wages.
You Should Call A Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away
You do not need to wait until the criminal case is charged or resolved before speaking with a personal injury lawyer about filing a civil claim. You can move forward with a civil personal injury case right away. In most circumstances, the sooner we get started, the better.