Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
When you file a civil suit against a defendant for sexual assault, it is your responsibility to prove their fault. This is known as the burden of proof, and plaintiffs can benefit from hiring an attorney to help them meet it.
In civil lawsuits, including those for sexual assault, the burden of proof is the plaintiff’s responsibility. Essentially, you must convince a judge or jury that it is more likely than not that a defendant sexually assaulted you. Your lawyer will help by compiling supporting evidence, like witnesses and communications with a defendant, to meet this burden of proof. Your attorney may also access helpful records, like your medical and therapy records, to meet the burden of proof and hold a defendant accountable for their actions.
Our lawyers are dedicated to helping sexual assault survivors heal from the wrongs done to them. For a free case evaluation with the sexual assault victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call us today at (814) 826-3586.
What Does the Burden of Proof Mean in a Sexual Assault Lawsuit?
Filing a sexual assault lawsuit against a defendant can help survivors get the justice they deserve. For a case to be successful however, the plaintiff’s legal counsel must meet the burden of proof. While the burden of proof is less demanding in a civil trial versus a criminal trial, plaintiffs must meet it to hold an abuser accountable.
Generally, the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit refers to a plaintiff’s responsibility to prove a defendant’s fault. In civil sexual assault lawsuits, the burden of proof is less significant than in a criminal trial. However, a plaintiff’s attorney must still convince a judge or jury of a defendant’s fault in a civil sexual assault lawsuit.
In such civil cases, the standard used to assess the burden of proof is known as a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Essentially, this means that a plaintiff’s counsel was able to provide enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that there is a greater than 50% chance that their claim is truthful. Or, in other words, that it is more likely than not that the defendant sexually assaulted the plaintiff. While a defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal trials, the burden of proof for civil sexual assault lawsuits is much lower.
The burden of proof being lower for civil trials may convince sexual assault survivors to file a lawsuit instead of pressing criminal charges against an abuser. Unfortunately, most sexual assaults are left unprosecuted, and victims may feel uncomfortable or unsafe pursuing criminal charges. When you hire a sexual assault victim attorney, you can file a successful civil suit for compensation and may be more likely to get justice, depending on the available evidence.
Evidence that Your Sexual Assault Lawyer May Use to Meet the Burden of Proof
Meeting the burden of proof in a sexual assault lawsuit is crucial so that survivors can successfully hold an abuser accountable for their actions. Your sexual assault victim attorney will strive to meet the burden of proof for civil litigation by compiling all available evidence. For example, your lawyer may use witnesses, medical records, communications, and therapy records to meet the burden of proof in a civil sexual assault lawsuit.
Witnesses can be very helpful in meeting the burden of proof in a sexual assault civil lawsuit. Remember, your lawyer’s goal is to convince a judge or jury that it is more than likely that a defendant sexually assaulted you. Witnesses can be invaluable in that effort if they have knowledge of the assault. For example, if you spoke to a trusted friend or loved one after being sexually assaulted, they can attest to your experience. If someone witnessed the assault frits-hand, whether they be a friend or stranger, they can testify in support of your claim.
When you first speak with your sexual assault victim attorney, they may ask you to try and recall if you told anyone about your sexual assault. Even if the assault happened long ago, reaching out to old friends who might have known can help you get the justice you deserve. If you ever told a teacher, parent, or friend about a sexual assault, be sure to inform your attorney.
Not every sexual assault survivor seeks medical attention after an attack. However, if you did, inform your attorney. Medical records can help your lawyer prove a defendant’s fault quickly. That being said, if you did not go to the hospital after being sexually assaulted, don’t feel like you did anything wrong. Survivors don’t always seek medical attention after an assault, and for understandable reasons.
While the existence of medical records is certainly helpful, not having them won’t damage your case. There are other ways our attorneys can strive to meet the burden of proof in a sexual assault lawsuit against an abuser.
Looking into the communications between a plaintiff and an abuser can go a long way in proving a defendant’s fault in a sexual abuse lawsuit. Often, sexual assaults are done by a person known to the victim. If you had any communication with an abuser following a sexual assault, that is normal. However, be sure to inform your sexual assault victim attorney. Communications with an abuser can help to prove their fault.
Additionally, if you have any prior communications with the defendant, send them to your lawyer. Your attorney needs to understand your relationship with the defendant and gain insight into their actions.
It can be incredibly helpful for sexual assault survivors to seek counseling from mental health professionals. Sexual assaults can be traumatizing, and licensed professionals can help you heal. If you have been seeing a therapist or counselor help you after a sexual assault, and feel comfortable, talk to your attorney about that.
Even if an assault happened decades ago, therapy records could help to corroborate your claim. That being said, if accessing these records feels invasive, speak with your attorney about other ways they may be able to meet the burden of proof in your sexual assault lawsuit.
Our Attorneys Can Meet the Burden of Proof in Your Sexual Assault Lawsuit
Our experienced lawyers will strive to meet the burden of proof in your sexual assault lawsuit and get you the justice you deserve. For a free case evaluation with the sexual assault victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call us today at (814) 826-3586.