Damages for Sexual Assault in Texas
It is common knowledge that sexual assault is a crime. In fact, any assault is criminal at some level, the penalties for which depend on the facts. What many people don’t know is that assault is also an intentional tort which, when proven, subjects the perpetrator to civil liability.
Under the Texas Penal Code, assault is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, threatening another with imminent bodily injury, or intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another when that person knows or should reasonably believe such contact would be offensive or provocative. Sexual assault is separately defined. Although it may be difficult, reporting the crime is a necessary first step in the criminal process. In a criminal case, the goal is to punish.
An assault victim may also be entitled to recover for injuries and other damages in a civil suit. The elements of a civil claim are the same as in a criminal case. In a civil case, however, the goal is to compensate. And, the burden of proof is lower.
Finally, a successful plaintiff in a civil case for assault is entitled to all the same damages as in any other tort case. As discussed in another blog, damages generally include economic damages (out-of-pocket expenses or lost wages, for example) non-economic damages (pain and suffering and mental anguish, for example) and, in some cases, punitive damages. The amount of compensation thus depends on the facts and circumstances of each specific case. In some cases, the perpetrator is solely responsible for those damages. In others, however, third parties may bear legal responsibility also.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault, you should contact an attorney to find out what rights you may have.