I have been sexually assaulted. What should I do?
If you have been sexually assaulted, you may be feeling angry, scared, shocked, ashamed, depressed, anxious, and more. You may be cycling quickly through these emotions or experiencing them all at once. You might be feeling too overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or depressed to return to work after a recent assault. Your relationships with loved ones may be affected. You may have difficulty enjoying the things that used to make you happy, or you may even have difficulty engaging in basic activities of daily living.
There is no one right way to proceed after experiencing a sexual assault. Everyone experiences and processes trauma in their own way. Some survivors will choose to seek justice through the legal system. They may choose to proceed through the criminal system, the civil court system, or both. The lawyers at MacIsaac and Company offer free consultations to explore those options with you and provide you with the information you need so that you are empowered to make the decision that is best for you. We specialize in helping survivors bring their claims in civil court, but we will never pressure you to proceed one way or the other.
What do civil sexual assault lawyers do?
As civil sexual assault lawyers, we help survivors of sexual assault sue assailants personally for financial compensation for the harm and injury caused to them due to the assault. You do not have to suffer physical injuries in order to bring a lawsuit. Most sexual assault survivors experience psychological injuries as a result of the assault. These injuries are just as harmful, and just as compensable, as physical injuries. The law clearly recognizes this and provides financial compensation to survivors for those injuries.
I was sexually assaulted a long time ago. Do I still have a case?
In British Columbia and in most Canadian provinces, it does not matter if the assault happened 10, 20, or 30 or more years ago. If the assailant is still alive, you can still bring your claim for compensation in civil court at any time because there is no limitation period in most Canadian provinces, including BC, for sexual assault.
If the assailant is deceased and their estate has been settled, then in most cases we will not be able to bring a claim in civil court. The exception to this is if there is another person, organization, or institution that may also have some responsibility for creating or allowing an opportunity for the assault to occur. The sexual assault lawyers at MacIsaac and Company are experienced in bringing sexual assault claims against those parties that have some “vicarious liability” for the sexual assault.
Can I still bring a claim in civil court if my case was unsuccessful in criminal court?
Oftentimes, survivors of sexual assault will be successful proving their case against an assailant in civil court even when the case did not result in a conviction of the assailant in criminal court. That is because the “standard of proof” in criminal court is much higher than the “standard of proof” in civil court. In criminal court, it is up to the prosecution to prove their case against the accused “beyond a reasonable doubt”. This is a very high burden of proof. In civil court, your lawyer must prove your case against the assailant “on a balance of probabilities”. This is a much lower standard of proof. It typically means your lawyer must convince a judge or jury that it is “more likely than not” that you were sexually assaulted by the assailant and that you suffered harm and injuries as a result.