Compensation for Sexual Assault Victims
On average, the economic costs of a sexual assault, such as medical bills and lost wages, exceed $120,000. The emotional distress these victims must endure is infinitely higher. Criminal courts punish sexual assault defendants. But in most cases, criminal courts don’t compensate victims for these losses. They must pay these bills themselves, even though the incident clearly wasn’t their fault.
Obviously, property owners aren’t individually responsible for such incidents. But they are financially responsible for them. A Columbia personal injury attorney obtains the compensation these victims need and deserve. Most of these claims settle out of court. So, there’s no need for an emotional courtroom showdown that’s almost as difficult for victims as a sexual assault. These settlements also end these cases sooner, so victims obtain compensation and move on with their lives sooner.
Duty of Care
If the sexual assault victim was an invitee, as is normally the case, property owners in South Carolina have a duty of care to provide adequate security. Almost all commercial and social guests are invitees. These individuals have permission to be on the property, and their presence provides an economic or noneconomic benefit to the owner.
The other two categories are licensee (permission but no benefit) and trespasser (no permission and no benefit). Limited or no duty applies in these situations.
Some victims are in a gray area. For example, if Michelle drives to Best Buy, she’s an invitee when she arrives in the parking lot. But if she shoplifts something, she’s a trespasser when she leaves the parking lot. The invitee/trespasser transition might have happened at almost any point.
Knowledge of Hazard
Additionally, a Columbia personal injury attorney must prove the owner knew about the injury-causing hazard. Examples of negligent security include:
- Equipment Failure: All security implements, such as gates and cameras, must be in good working order. If the owner deployed the equipment, it was most likely reasonably necessary for proper security.
- Inappropriate Level: Mostly depending on the type of business, as outlined below, some owners need live, armed security guards on premises 24/7/365. Others need passive security, like the measures discussed above. The law, not the owner’s preference, dictates the proper security level.
- Dangerous Tenants: Often, property managers rent personal or business space to people with checkered pasts, to give them second chances. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the manager doesn’t unreasonably put other people at risk.
This evidence could be direct, like a security survey, or circumstantial, like a problem the owner knows about and doesn’t address.
Legal causation, or foreseeability (possibility) of injury, is an element in all personal injury cases. Usually, this element is just a formality. But if negligent security claims, it could make or break a case.
Third-party criminal acts, like sexual assaults, usually aren’t foreseeable. But owners cannot willfully ignore risks, such as the type of business. A bank needs tighter security than a flower shop. Other factors to consider include prior similar incidents in the area and the neighborhood’s crime rate.
Count on a Thorough Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.