Legal Assistance for Victims of Sexual Assault

Assault, sexual assault, and rape may be considered New York premises injury cases if the crime occurred due to negligent maintenance, or unsafe conditions on property owned by someone other than the victim. Property owners and business establishments have a duty to provide a safe environment by providing adequate lighting, well-maintained locks, and security systems. Failure to maintain these standards can leave residents or customers open to attacks that might have otherwise been avoided.

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In addition to filing criminal charges against the perpetrator of the crime, you may be able to file a civil claim to recover damages from the negligent property owner, as well as a civil claim against the perpetrator. This can be a lot to handle after a violent attack, which is why you should let an experienced attorney deal with as much of it as possible. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, today at (212) 986-7353. Speak with a lawyer and we can discuss ways for you to move forward and take action.

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What Do I Do After a Sexual Assault?

The first thing you should know is that you are in no way to blame for what happened. It was not your fault. Nothing you said, nothing you wore, nothing you did in any way makes you to blame for someone else attacking you. It is important to remember that. Do not blame yourself or let anyone else make you feel guilty for what happened to you.

With that in mind, you need to report the assault and get law enforcement involved to arrest the person who attacked you. That can be incredibly difficult, but you are not alone. It often helps to talk to close friends or family members, but if you do not have anyone you can talk to, consider contacting RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country. Call (800) 656-4673. They have experienced professionals who will listen to you and help you take the next steps.

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How Is Rape Connected to Premises Liability?

Premises liability can be a factor. Some environments are more likely to be targeted by violent criminals looking for people to assault. If a business owner doesn’t replace lights or install security features to keep customers safe, then he or she may be partially liable for what happens on the property. No one is expected to see the future, but there are reasonable steps that can be taken to keep others safe.

Similarly, if a rental property does not provide adequate locks or other security features, especially when required by law, then the owners may be liable for crimes that occur on their property. Even a bar owner might be held liable if customers are not protected from criminals placing drugs or other narcotics into their drinks. When we rent an apartment or go to a store to shop, we expect the property owner to take reasonable steps to keep us as safe as possible.

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Can I Sue my Attacker?

In general, yes; you can bring a civil lawsuit against someone who attacks you, and this includes sexual assault. Damages in these kinds of cases can include compensation for medical bills as well as for time missed from work, psychological counseling, and emotional distress. You may also be able to seek punitive damages that are not related to any actual expenses, but are instead meant to punish the person who attacked you.

You may also be able to bring a lawsuit against someone other than your attacker. For example, if you were assaulted by an employee of a business, you might have a case against the employer if it happened while the perpetrator was on the job. If a psychologist or other mandatory reporter had reason to believe the person who attacked you would commit such a crime and failed to report it, then they might also be held liable.

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How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

In 2006, New York State did away with its statute of limitations for rape cases in Crim. Proc. 30.10(2)(a). In August 2019, the State suspended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases – victims may file a civil claim as long as they are 55 years old or younger. (They may file criminal charges until they are 28 years old, per Crim. Proc. 30.10(3)(f).)

For rape, there is no time limit to file a criminal charge against a perpetrator. However, New York has a three-year limit on claims that fall under the premises liability umbrella. Institutions are responsible for the people they hire and allow to work for them. If an organization turned a blind eye to a victim’s safety, they should be held liable in court, and the sooner you contact a lawyer to begin proceedings, the better.

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What About Other Violent Crimes?

Victims of other violent crimes may also be able to bring a civil lawsuit against their attackers and also third parties. Someone who was robbed in a dark parking lot without proper security in place might be able to file a lawsuit against the owner of the lot.

Keep in mind, however, that negligence means a person or company failed to take reasonable actions. This means a property owner is not automatically responsible for what happens on the property, especially if reasonable steps were taken to keep the location as safe as possible.

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Our NY Rape Victim Attorneys Are Here to Help You

Our New York assault on property lawyers have handled many types of premises liability cases. An emerging area of litigation includes claims against hotels, shopping centers, and other businesses that have a known problem with crime on their premises yet failed to protect their customers. Many of these cases involve victims who have been severely injured, raped, or even killed as a result of the business establishment failing to protect its customers from known dangers.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, today at (212) 986-7353. We will guide you in the right direction.

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