Can You Sue a Doctor for Sexual Assault?
In most cases, it is difficult for a victim of sexual assault to come forward with their allegations. However, when it comes to reporting a physician, that act can become even more frightening. Society teaches us that doctors are to be trusted and held in high regard, but they are no more above the law than anyone else.
This article will answer the question: can you sue a doctor for sexual assault? Read on to learn more about your rights, what qualifies, and what to do about it.
Can You Sue?
In short, yes, you can sue a physician for sexual assault. While they may have some protections to help shield them from allegations, this does not mean that the case can’t be brought to court. However, the category with which the case will be processed falls under medical malpractice. This is because the act of sexually assaulting a patient violates the medical code doctors and physicians have sworn to uphold.
What Constitutes Sexual Assault?
Regardless of the gender of the victim or the alleged abuser, sexual misconduct consists of a non-consensual sexual relationship. While this can include what usually falls under sexual assault, such as forced touching, oral, or penetration, there are a few other instances that only apply to doctors and physicians:
- Unnecessary exams
- Sexually inappropriate behavior under sedation
- Requesting unnecessary details of a patient’s sexual history
- Unprofessional physical contact
Civil Suit or Criminal Charges?
If you’re wondering whether you should file a civil suit for compensation or press criminal charges, you should know that both can occur simultaneously. For example, you can press criminal charges against a doctor, but you need to prove that they have committed the act beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, you may not get all the compensation you are entitled to with a criminal case.
However, with a civil suit, there is a lower standard of proof as you only need to show a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that it is more likely than not that the situation occurred. You are the purser of the case in a civil suit, while a prosecutor is the pursuer of criminal charges.
While you can sue on your own, a criminal investigation and trial will occur separately if evidence of a criminal act is found in the civil case.
What Compensation Is Available?
Lawsuits can cover medical bills, emotional and mental suffering, lost wages, etc. In addition, the alleged abuser may have to pay punitive damages. This means that, in especially heinous crimes or bad behavior, the alleged abuser must pay more than it would take to compensate you. The court can enact these when it wants to prevent others from being hurt by similar actions.
Now that you know you can sue a doctor for sexual assault, you have the confidence and knowledge to choose whether suing is the right step for you. If it is, contact a patient rights lawyer and get the representation you deserve.