A woman who pursued a civil lawsuit against an ex-boyfriend after he sexually assaulted her has been awarded $40 million by a jury, an award which also included punitive damages.
“It was monstrous. It was absolutely monstrous what he did to me. Things on the level of serial killers or psychopaths.” the victim stated at the end of her trial.
Her ordeal began when she returned home one evening. Little did she know, her ex-boyfriend was waiting for her outside. He attacked her right outside of her home hitting her with a lamp, pummeling her with his fists, sexually assaulting her, and stabbing her with a knife – over 40 times. After more than 30 surgeries which ultimately lead to the placement of not just one, but two, metal plates in the plaintiff’s head, it’s a miracle that she is still alive.
At the end of the trial, the jury awarded $13.5 million for her medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and $27.1 million in punitive damages.
Prior to this case, criminal charges were brought against the defendant. In his criminal case, he was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to 28-years in prison for his crime. His lawyer has stated that since he was found guilty of the criminal charges, it was almost impossible to stop the jury from awarding damages to the plaintiff in the civil case.
What Is The Difference Between Criminal And Civil Cases?
A criminal case is filed by the local, state, or federal government after they believe enough evidence has shown that a law has been broken. In these cases, fines and/or jail time is sought as a punishment for that alleged crime.
Civil cases are filed by an individual or group. The plaintiffs in these cases are seeking monetary compensation for losses they sustained due to the actions or decisions of the defendant.
It is not uncommon for a defendant to face both criminal and civil complaints if they harmed someone else while breaking the law.
Can Sexual Assault Victims Always File A Lawsuit?
In the majority of cases, it is possible for the victim of sexual assault to file a civil lawsuit against their attacker. By doing so, they may be able to regain compensation for:
Both past and expected future medical expenses may be awarded to the plaintiff for the medical treatments they have required after the attack.
Physical Pain and Suffering
If the plaintiff has been left with constant physical pain or scarring it may be possible to obtain compensation to cover this non-monetary loss.
It’s no secret that sexual assault can leave a victim with anxiety, depression, and flashbacks. While money can’t make those conditions go away, it can help provide the plaintiff with the means to get the support and treatment they need.
If the plaintiff needs to take time off of work after their ordeal, the amount of money they lost in expected earnings may be covered in the award.
It’s OK To Be Afraid
It has been estimated that 68% of all sexual assaults go unreported. Unfortunately, a culture of fear and silence has been created in the United States which has led many victims to believe that they should be ashamed about what happened to them or that they won’t be believed. At Banville Law, we work hard to make sure that sexual assault victims feel safe and that their identities are protected.
It’s OK to be afraid, but remember, you aren’t alone. Many victims have reported that by pursuing legal action against their attacker they finally felt a sense of relief and that justice was being done.