Some of the worst injuries that you can suffer while spending time at drug or alcohol rehab come from nonconsensual sexual intercourse. Rapes happen at rehab facilities at a disturbing rate and more go unreported every year.
While most of the focus in these cases is on the rapist and the criminal case that often follows, the victim gets overlooked. This is incredibly unfortunate because the victim is in need of compensation for their terrible experience.
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian know this, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the process and how a victim can get the compensation they need.
Will My Rapist's Criminal Case Help Me Recover?
Emotionally, seeing the person who raped you in a rehab center get convicted for what they have done can be extremely relieving. That feeling, though, can be outweighed by the stress of having to testify about what happened, and completely destroyed if the criminal case cannot prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they were responsible.
Even if there is a conviction, though, victims do not receive compensation for their injuries in the criminal process. While a conviction does strengthen your civil case, there are still a lot of steps to go through.
Who Will Compensate Me for My Injuries?
The practical problem of who will be the one to pay for the compensation that you need is a very real problem in some cases. Regardless of whether the culprit was a staff member of another patient at the rehab center, it is unlikely that they will have the financial means to cover the costs of what is likely to be a huge verdict against them. Worse, because rapes are intentionally done, their insurance will not step in to cover the costs of the act.
It is an unfortunate legal fact that one of the biggest challenges of a personal injury claim stemming from a rape in a rehab center is not proving that the incident happened and that you deserve to be compensated; it is proving that a particular party was responsible who is likely to be able to cover the costs of a verdict.
Can the Rehab Center Be Held Responsible?
There are plenty of circumstances where the rehab center can be held responsible for their actions – or their inactions – which led to the event.
In cases where the culprit was a staffer at the rehab center, this can take the form of evidence that the rehab center knew, or at least should have known, that the staff member in question posed a serious risk to patients at the rehab center. Whether in the form of prior criminal convictions for violent or sexual crimes or a history of complaints from other rehab patients about their inappropriate conduct, this could make it clear that the rehab center should have taken action but did not do so.
Where the culprit was another patient at the rehab facility, proving that the rehab center was responsible involves evidence that the center did not take reasonable precautions to keep you safe from foreseeable harm.
In either case, stretching liability for the rape to the rehab center can be essential because the facility is far more likely to be able to cover the costs of the compensation that you deserve.
How Long Can the Process Take?
While filing the personal injury lawsuit has to be done within the timeframe set by the statute of limitations, any criminal proceedings from the rape can delay the civil side of the case. Depending on how quickly the criminal process takes, the process can last several years.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Recover?
Civil lawsuits, including those that stem from a rape, aim to compensate a victim for all of the losses that they have suffered. These losses include:
- Medical expenses, both past and future, and including the costs of care for non-physical injuries, like therapy
- Professional repercussions of the incident, including lost wages and a reduced ability to earn a living after the fact
- Loss of companionship and consortium felt by your loved ones
Perhaps most importantly in a civil lawsuit for rape or sexual abuse, though, is the compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been put through. In many of these cases, compensation for the physical pain and the mental and emotional suffering that you have gone through will form the bulk of your compensation.
However, there is another form of recovery that you stand to receive in a verdict after a successful personal injury case for rape in a rehab center: Punitive damages. A jury can award you punitive damages that come from especially egregious conduct on behalf of the culprit or the rehab center. While punitive damages are rare in most personal injury cases, rape cases are far more likely to include them in the final verdict.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
Injuries in rehab centers – and especially severe injuries that can make the rehab center look particularly bad, like rapes – involve evidence that the rehab center has control over. Making sure that the evidence is preserved, and what to do if some of it goes “missing,” is something that a personal injury lawyer knows how to handle because they have seen it numerous times, before.
A personal injury lawyer can also be a huge asset by being your advocate throughout the process. By hiring one, you show the rehab center that you mean to invoke your rights. A lawyer's help and advocacy can also extend through the settlement negotiations – where they have a firm understanding of what is a good settlement offer and what is a lowball – and into the courtroom.
Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
If you have been raped while recovering from addiction at a rehab center, you need legal help and representation to make sure you are compensated for what you have been through. The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact them online to get your case started.