Sexual assault can happen anywhere and to anyone. Adults and children of any gender, age, and sexual orientation can be victims of sexual assault, although women are five times more likely than men to be sexually assaulted. Sexual violence may occur in your or someone else’s home, public places, workplaces, or other institutions, such as schools.
Any contact of a sexual nature that occurs between two people where one party has not given consent is a type of sexual assault. It is still sexual assault between partners or spouses if there is no consent.
Unfortunately, many sexual assaults are perpetrated by people you know, family members, and figures of authority. When that happens, it is likely that victims may not feel they will get the help and support they need to address the wrong that has been done to them. A sexual assault lawyer can help victims get closure and compensation by confronting the perpetrator and holding them accountable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Why You Need a Sexual Assault Lawyer in British Columbia
Sexual assault is a criminal offence in British Columbia (BC), and in every province and territory in Canada, under section 271 of the Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46). Anyone convicted of sexual assault might face a prison term of up to ten years. However, if the victim was under the age of 16, then a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of one year is imposed, which can extend to up to 14 years. Nonetheless, the Crown can choose to proceed summarily, in which case the punishment will be slightly less severe. .
Some victims of sexual assault may feel that criminal punishment is enough, but they might not anticipate the long-term effects of surviving such an attack. About 16% of victims of violence sustain psychological damage akin to post-traumatic stress disorder. The unseen damage resulting from sexual violence and assault can impact a victim’s life in unforeseen ways that can have severe financial consequences.
Sexual assault lawyers in British Columbia can offer victims civil remedies. The British Columbia Law Institute published a study on the serious nature of sexual assault and how the BC civil justice system awards compensation to victims. A personal injury lawsuit is the most common form of civil action against one or more parties identified as having some liability for the injury.
A sexual assault lawyer in BC may consider the victim’s motivations to evaluate the case and the type of damage to pursue. The most common reasons for filing a civil lawsuit for sexual assault include:
- Ensure protection or assistance to future victims
- Get an apology
- Get compensation
- Help with healing
- Public affirmation of allegations
- Seek justice when the criminal justice system is inadequate
Sexual Assault Lawyer Explains Liability
Like other types of personal injury, liability for sexual assault may be on more than one party. Several people or entities may have breached their duty of care or trust to the victim that led to the sexual assault. The bases of liability include the following:
- Assault and battery – Battery is the intentional infliction of physical harm or offensive contact by the perpetrator. Assault, on the other hand, is when the perpetrator creates the apprehension that he or she will inflict such physical harm or offensive contact.
- Negligence – Negligence is reckless or careless behaviour without intent to harm that led to circumstances making sexual assault possible. These are often persons or institutions who owe a duty of care to the victim, such as parents and schools.
- Breach of non-delegable duty – Non-delegable duties are those that cannot be given to someone else. For example, it’s the duty of the employer to maintain a safe workplace and he or she cannot delegate that duty to someone else.
- Vicarious liability – Vicarious liability is when the employer is held responsible for the employee’s misconduct, such as sexual assault, while the employee was performing his or her duties. The employer is often held liable because he or she has the means to provide compensation to the victim.
- Breach of fiduciary duty– Fiduciary duty refers to that which is owed to you by a person of authority. For example, a doctor owes a fiduciary duty to his or her patient and a teacher owes the same to his or her student.
- Breach of the Charter – This only applies if the government is involved. For example, if local police fail to warn people in the area that a serial rapist has not been apprehended and you are sexually assaulted because you weren’t notified, then you can seek compensation from the government for breach of your Charter rights.
Compensation With the Help of a Sexual Assault Lawyer in British Columbia
The civil justice system in BC has identified just compensation in personal injury lawsuits based on past court decisions. However, the monetary damages awarded vary on a case-to-case basis. The most common awards include:
- Pecuniary damages – Pecuniary damages are financial compensation awarded to cover actual economic losses, such as medical costs, lost wages, future lost earnings, and future costs of care. The aim is to place the plaintiff in the same position they would have been in if he or she had not been sexually assaulted.
- Non-pecuniary damages – Non-pecuniary damages compensate a plaintiff for non-financial or intangible losses, including, but not limited to, pain and suffering, loss of expectation of life, and loss of amenities.
- Punitive damages – Punitive damages are financial costs designed to punish the defendant and send a strong signal to others about sexual assault.
The Three Levels of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault level 1
According to Section 271 of the Criminal Code, this level of sexual assault involves a violation of the victim’s sexual integrity and minor or no physical injuries.
Sexual assault level 2
According to section 272 of the Criminal Code, this level of sexual assault involves the employment of a weapon, threats, or bodily harm during the commission of the assault.
Aggravated sexual assault
According to section 273 of the Criminal Code, this involves serious physical harm to the victim, up to and including endangering the victim’s life.
Are you a victim of sexual assault and seeking civil remedies for the trauma and losses you sustained? Consult with Diamond and Diamond’s experienced and compassionate sexual assault lawyers in British Columbia.
“About 80% of sexual assaults in Canada are committed by people that the victim knows personally, such as family members, friends, work colleagues, and authority figures.”
– Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
When Should You Contact a Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer
Victims of sexual assault deserve all the help and support of family, friends, and sexual assault lawyers in British Columbia. However, Statistics Canada reports that in 2017, 15.1% of sexual assault allegations made in British Columbia were unfounded, which means that police didn’t find any evidence that it happened.
Whether a particular case is deemed unfounded or not, defendants in a sexual assault lawsuit also deserve proper representation. A sexual assault defense lawyer can ensure that defendants get fair treatment, especially when allegations of sexual assault are false. Being falsely accused of sexual assault can ruin a person’s reputation, so getting an experienced sexual assault defense lawyer immediately after being accused is critical.
When to Call a Sexual Assault Lawyer in BC
Sexual assault is a serious crime and has long-term consequences for victims. The civil justice system of British Columbia acknowledges the seriousness of the situation and, therefore, provides remedies to victims in the form of monetary compensation.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries from unwanted sexual contact, you may be eligible to receive compensation from those responsible. Diamond & Diamond Lawyers in British Columbia are a group of experienced advocates for personal injury victims, who are well-steeped in the laws pertaining to sexual assault.
More importantly, our lawyers have a deep understanding of the physical and emotional challenges of sexual assault victims and deal with them with the patience and compassion they deserve. You can safely put yourself or your loved one in the capable hands of Diamond & Diamond sexual assault lawyers in BC.
Find out how Diamond and Diamond Lawyers in British Columbia can help. Drop by any of our offices or schedule a free consultation online. You may also avail of our 24/7 free evaluation by calling 1-800-567-HURT (4878).
In some instances, they could be. According to the Department of Justice, anyone who commits forced penetration (formerly called rape) may be charged with sexual assault under sections 271, 272, and 273 of the Criminal Code, depending on the circumstances.