Modesto Sexual Assault Lawyers

Trusted Modesto Sexual Assault Attorneys Ready To Assist You

Sexual assault and sexual harassment occur far too frequently in society. Despite the atrocity of these acts, victims often fail to report the abuse and choose to stay silent about the trauma they endured. Many victims report an unwillingness to come forward because they fear that no one will believe them. Or worse yet, that their abuser will somehow avoid all consequences. However, sexual assault victims in California have more than one way to hold their attackers accountable. Even if the state takes no criminal action, victims can bring a civil action against their abuser to recover damages for the harm they suffered. Contact a Modesto sexual assault lawyer at Silva Injury Law, Inc., for a free evaluation of your case.

Resources

  • If you are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit thehotline.org
  • If you are a teen being abused call the National Teen Dating Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or visit loveisrespect.org
  • If you have been raped or experienced sexual violence, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit rainn.org
  • For safety planning, safe shelter, and counseling, contact W.E.A.V.E.: When Everyone Acts Violence Ends 1-866-920-2952 weaveinc.org

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Who Is Liable For Damages?

When most people think of sexual assault, they often picture just two people: the perpetrator and the victim. Nevertheless, in some cases, the negligence of third parties can contribute to the assault or harassment. And when third parties are involved, they too can be liable for damages.

Employers

The workplace can create a hunting ground for perpetrators seeking close access and easy contact with victims. In fact, sexual harassment in the workplace is quite common. Unfortunately, a workplace harassment victim faces the added stress of termination if the abuse interferes with job performance. Common forms of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace include:

  • Unwanted physical touching;
  • Unwelcomed sexual advances, especially if repeated;
  • Offers of employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors;
  • Repeated exposure to inappropriate sexually charged jokes; or
  • Displays of inappropriate or derogatory sexually charged imagery.

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace must report the abuse to someone within the organization if they want their situation to change. Ideally, the person you report to will put a stop to the harassment. Unfortunately, things do not always go that smoothly in real-world situations.

So if you report abuse and get no results, you can then file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DEFH). The DEFH evaluates your complaint and determines if your claim has merit. If it does, the DEFH issues a “right to sue” notice. This notice entitles you to file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary compensation against your employer, the perpetrator of the harassment, or both.

A three-year statute of limitations applies to filing a DFEH complaint. After the DFEH issues the right to sue notice, you have one year to file a civil suit.

Sexual Harassment by a Co-Worker vs. Sexual Harassment by a Supervisor

The standard of proof for an employer’s liability changes depending on whether a co-worker or supervisor committed the sexual harassment. If the perpetrator is a supervisor, your employer is strictly liable for damages arising out of that harassment. So even if the employer was not negligent, they are liable.

Alternatively, if a co-worker sexually harassed you, the employer is only liable if they were negligent in handling the situation. The law considers an employer negligent if they knew or reasonably should have known about the sexual harassment but failed to take the appropriate action to remedy it.

A Modesto sexual harassment attorney at Silva Injury Law, Inc., can help you determine what steps to take when filing a civil lawsuit for sexual harassment.

Business Owners

California business owners have a duty of care towards their customers. This duty mandates that they take reasonable steps to prevent customers from being exposed to harm. A failure to do so is considered negligent. Generally speaking, unsafe conditions that are recognized or should have been recognized by the business owner can result in liability if that condition injures a customer.

In the context of sexual abuse or harassment, consider the following example.

Example

Sally, the owner of Little Tots Daycare, hires Jenny as a childcare teacher. Sally fails to perform a background check on Jenny, where she would have discovered that Jenny is a registered sex offender and prohibited from being around children. Jenny subsequently sexually assaults a child in the daycare. As the owner, Sally is liable for the harm suffered by the victim. Sally breached her duty of care by not performing the background check, which would have safeguarded the children in her care.

Medical Institutions

Medical institutions can face liability if a member of their staff sexually assaults a patient in their care. The perpetrator’s employer has liability under the legal theories of negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or vicarious liability.

Negligence

The first theory available for holding medical institutions liable for the misconduct of their staff is negligent hiring or supervision. To succeed on this theory, you must prove:

  • The employee was unfit for the job at the time the company hired them;
  • The employer knew or should have known the risks the employee posed to patients;
  • The employee’s lack of fitness was the cause of harm; and
  • The employer’s negligence in hiring, supervising, or retaining the employee was a substantial factor in causing the harm.

The fact that an employee committed the sexual assault intentionally does not absolve his or her employer from liability. A Modesto sexual assault attorney can assess whether or not your case meets these elements and help you decide whether you wish to file a claim.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability, or respondeat superior, means employers are liable for employee misconduct as long as it occurred on the job and within the scope of employment. However, it is safe to assume that committing crimes falls outside the scope of any employee’s duties at a medical institution. Thus, the negligence theory is typically a more viable option when seeking to hold a medical employer accountable for their employee’s actions.

Schools

When parents enroll their children in school, they want to believe that they are safe from all manner of harm, including sexual harm. No one wants to think about it, but unfortunately, sexual abuse can occur at school. But educational facilities face liability for sexual assault and harassment in the same manner as medical institutions. And like medical institutions, you can sue a school under the theories of negligence and vicarious liability.

FAQs

Who are the most common perpetrators of sexual assault?

While you can’t tell who is capable of sexually assaulting someone just by looking at them, history shows us that most victims are assaulted by someone they know. In fact, according to a recent survey, 59% of all sexual assaults involved an acquaintance. This may be a friend, colleague, supervisor, or neighbor. The second most common perpetrator profile is that of a family member, which accounts for about a third of all sexual assaults. Strangers—although perhaps the most feared perpetrator—are only responsible for about seven percent of all sexual assaults. If you’ve been assaulted by someone you know, it is important you reach out to a Modesto sexual assault attorney to learn more about your options.

How Common Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is extremely common. Some estimate that as many as 734,000 people are sexually assaulted each year. This amounts to about one in every three or four people being attacked every year. However, determining the exact number of sexual assaults is impossible because rape and other forms of sex abuse frequently go unreported. In fact, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, rape is the most underreported crime, with just over a third of all rape victims reporting the crime to police. However, reporting sexual assault is critical to putting a stop to it. If you survived a sexual assault, you are not alone. To learn how you can hold the person responsible for the attack legally accountable, contact a Modesto sexual assault lawyer.

Is it True That Most Allegations of Sexual Assault Are False?

Absolutely not. While there is a commonly held belief that sexual assault allegations are frequently fabricated, this is not the case. In fact, according to a 2009 report, only between two to ten percent of sexual assault allegations were determined to be false. This figure is in line with other types of crime. However, unfortunately, the widespread nature of this misconception prevents many survivors from coming forward, which means perpetrators may go on to assault others. If you’ve survived a sexual assault, you deserve a Modesto sexual assault lawyer who will not only listen to your story but also help you tell it.

Contact a Modesto Sexual Harassment and Assault Lawyer Today

If you recently experienced sexual assault, reach out to Silva Injury Law, Inc. Our Modesto sexual assault lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the laws governing these complex cases. Just as importantly, we also understand what you are going through. Michael Joe Silva, the founder of Silva Injury Law, formerly prosecuted criminal sexual assault cases with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office and now uses the skill and knowledge he acquired to continue helping the victims of sexual assault. When you bring the injury lawyers at Silva Injury Law onto your team, we will take the time to answer your questions and explain the process to you in detail so you know what to expect. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Modesto sexual assault attorney, call 209-315-3502 today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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We believe that our duty goes beyond achieving large monetary awards for our clients. We strive first to be decent human beings who seek not to stir up fights, but to solve problems.

As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be enough business.

- Abraham Lincoln