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Columbia Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Personal Injury > Legal Responsibility In Sexual Assault Matters

Legal Responsibility In Sexual Assault Matters


Most sexual assaults happen in publicly accessible places. One in three women say they were sexually assaulted in an apartment complex, hotel, parking lot, shopping mall, or other such location. Criminal courts punish sexual assault offenders. Civil courts compensate the victims of these offenses, so they have an easier time moving on with their lives. As outlined below, the parking lot, apartment complex, or other property owner is often financially responsible for this compensation.

Additionally, in criminal court, a sexual assault victim is only a material witness. Prosecutors represent the state, not the victims. In contrast, a Columbia personal injury attorney exclusively represents sexual assault victims and other injury victims. Instead of the best possible outcome for the state, an attorney is only interested in the best possible outcome for the victim. This outcome usually includes maximum compensation for serious physical, emotional, and other injuries.

Legal Responsibility

All South Carolina property owners have a duty of care to provide adequate security. The extent of this responsibility usually depends on the relationship between the owner and victim, as follows:

  • Invitee: When people go to places like parking lots and hotels, they are invitees if they have permission to be at that location and the owner benefits from their presence. Because of this close relationship, owners have a duty of care to keep invitees reasonably safe. This duty includes a responsibility to provide adequate security.
  • Licensee: Children who cut across parking lots on the way to school and guests of hotel guests are licensees. They have at least indirect permission to be on the premises, but the owner doesn’t benefit. The more distant relationship means a lower duty of care. Usually, owners must warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects. A caution sign about a burned-out light is usually sufficient, provided that the sign was visible and the victim could read and understand it.
  • Trespasser: Children who skateboard at parking lots or people who break into hotel rooms are trespassers (no permission and no benefit). Therefore, no duty of care applies, except a duty to refrain from intentional harm. Some loopholes, like the attractive nuisance rule, protect some trespassers in some cases.

The duty to provide adequate security varies as well, mostly on the facts of the case. In a few situations, adequate security means a hiring team of armed guards who carry assault rifles. In a few other cases, adequate security simply means locking the door. In most situations, adequate security is somewhere between these two extremes.

Practical Responsibility

If a duty of care applied, a COlumbia personal injury attorney can obtain compensation if the owner knew, or should have known, about the hazard, and the victim’s injury was foreseeable (possible).

Many owners commission security surveys or warn people about security gaps. These things are direct evidence of actual knowledge. The time-notice-rule usually governs circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known). If a camera was broken for several days, the owner should have known about the hazard and should have addressed it.

Evidence of foreseeability includes prior similar incidents in the area, the neighborhood’s crime rate, type of business, and prior similar incidents at that location. Victim/plaintiff must establish foreseeability and knowledge by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Connect With 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. We routinely handle matters throughout the Palmetto State.


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