Ohio allows victims of sexual assault to file civil lawsuits against their perpetrators. Several sex crimes can be the basis of a lawsuit. These crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Sexual abuse of an adult or child
- Sexual assault by a trusted professional (doctor, teacher, boss)
- Institutionalized sexual assault (prison, mental health facility, workplace)
Sexual assault is a prevalent crime, with one sexual assault happening every 68 seconds in America. Every nine minutes, one of those victims is a child. With one out of every six women being a victim or attempted victim of sexual assault, the criminal justice system alone is not enough to assist these victims with the emotional trauma they experience from the assault. Civil lawsuits allow victims to recover monetary damages that can help with mental health treatment, counseling, and medical costs.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
Victims of sexual assault can file a civil lawsuit to recover monetary compensation or “damages” from the perpetrator or liable party. When filing a civil suit for sexual assault, more than one party may be responsible and added to the lawsuit. Your attorney will assess additional liability based on the facts of your case.
In Ohio, there does not need to be an existing case or charge of sexual assault to bring a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. However, a civil case may eventually lead to a criminal charge or investigation of the sexual assault.
Ohio has a statute of limitations on sexual assault civil cases that limits how long a victim can take legal action after a crime occurs.
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit for any victim of childhood sexual abuse (under 18 years old) is until they reach 30 years old. Adult victims have as little as one year from the date of the sexual assault to file a lawsuit. Adults between 18 and 22 that are mentally impaired have 12 years from the date of abuse to file a lawsuit. If they are under 18, they are under the statute that allows them to file a lawsuit until they are 30.
Although Ohio has a statute of limitations, many states offer lookback windows that allow victims of sexual abuse to file a claim regardless of when the abuse occurred and if their statute of limitations is up.
Many states enact lookback windows for one to two years, so in that time, anyone can file a claim of sexual abuse even if it happened 30 years ago.
Civil Claims and Damages Based on Sexual Assault
The amount and type of compensation (damages) awarded in a sexual assault civil lawsuit are based on each case and the victim’s physical or emotional harm. Many survivors of sexual abuse will suffer the effects of emotional and mental trauma for years after the incident has occurred. While the criminal system is in place to punish the perpetrator, the civil system focuses on “making the plaintiff whole.”
The damages awarded in a civil lawsuit are quite different with each case because many factors are considered when awarding damages. Damages can factor in monetary costs to the plaintiff, such as lost wages, medical care, and ongoing rehabilitative care (counseling). The civil justice system must also assess any emotional distress claims and quantify the plaintiffs suffering into an award of monetary damages. It is common for victims of sexual assault to experience a range of immediate and long-term mental and emotional damage, including:
- PTSD or Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Self-harm or suicide attempts
- Panic attacks
- Drug and alcohol use
These conditions can impact an abuse survivor’s life for years, and without proper care, counseling and treatment can have lasting effects on their relationships, employment, and quality of life.
Contact an Attorney
Money cannot erase the emotional distress of a sexual assault, but it can help ease the financial burden and cover costs related to the assault. You need one of our lawyers at Charles Boyk, who is experienced in handling sexual assault lawsuits and will approach your case with sensitivity and respect. We understand that it can be an intimidating process to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the assault.
Contact our lawyers at Charles Boyk for a free consultation to discuss how the statute of limitations and other civil claim guidelines may affect your case.