Sexual Assault Claims in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Sexual Assault Lawyers

Tough representation when a sexual assault causes you physical and emotional harm

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Sexual assaults are unconscionable. Both the person who commits the sexual assault and anyone with a duty of care who fails to prevent it should be held accountable for the harm they cause. Sexual assault victims include college students, anyone who belongs to social organizations, employees and workers in local businesses, nursing home residents – and literally anyone.

At Carmody and Ging, Injury & Accident Lawyers, our Pittsburgh sexual assault lawyers are seasoned personal injury lawyers. We understand how to prove a sexual assault happened and why those in a position of authority should have stopped the attack before it occurred. We work with rape counselors and other psychological professionals who help you get your confidence back so you can file your claim, present your testimony, protect your rights, and help you secure compensation for your losses.

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What type of conduct qualifies as sexual abuse?

Psychology Today defines sexual abuse as any sexual activity that occurs without consent or where the victim is unable to give consent. Sexual abuse includes sexual assault and sexual violence. Examples of sexual abuse include rape, forced oral sex, sexual touching, and other sexual assaults. Per the publication, “No matter which act occurs, it’s not the survivor’s fault that they were assaulted—and help is available to begin healing from such abuse.” 

Where and how often does sexual abuse/sexual assaults occur?

Sexual often assault can take place anywhere. Common locations include campus dorms, workplaces, nursing homes, religious organizations, and other locations. Some of the relationships where a person in a position of trust may sexually assault another person are:

  • Teachers and students
  • Students and other students
  • Clergy and parishioners
  • Coaches and participants
  • Doctors and patients
  • Nursing home staff and senior residents including residents with dementia

According to the National Violence Sexual Resource Center:

  • More than 4 in 5 women and 2 in 5 men reported experiencing some time of sexual assault or harassment in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 3 three female victims of “completed or attempted rape experienced it for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17.”
  • About half of female rape victims said the assailant was an intimate partner while 40.8% said the assailant was an acquaintance.

Sexual assault at colleges and bars 

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape reports “one in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted while in college. 90% go unreported,” and “LGBTQ students, black students, and students living with disabilities all have higher risks of being sexually assaulted on-campus.”

Women’s Health states that students are at the highest risk of sexual assault in the “first few months of their first and second semesters in college.” Sexual assault happens most often to women between 18 and 24 years old. Some of the factors for the large number of sexual assaults on campus are:

  • Alcohol and drugs weaken the ability of a woman to give consent. Nobody should engage in sexual relations with a person who is unable to consent due to drugs or alcohol.
  • Peer pressure. There’s a difference between going to a party and sexual assault. Being forced into unwanted sexual activity for social acceptance is a type of sexual coercion.

Only one in five college-age women report sexual assaults to the police. While talking to a stranger is difficult, speaking with a school official can help victims obtain the counseling they need and puts the school on notice that a sexual assault took place.

Women’s Health emphasizes:

If you are sexually assaulted, it is not your fault, regardless of the circumstances. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are in a safe place, you can call 911 to report the sexual assault to the police as soon as possible.

If the sexual assault happened on campus or the person who harmed you was a student, you can also report it to school authorities for additional support. The school is required to help you continue your education. There are options to help you feel safe on campus, such as requesting to change class schedules, changing dorms, or obtaining a no-contact order. Schools that receive federal funding may provide other forms of support, such as counseling or tutoring, if you need it because of a sexual assault on campus.

After speaking to the proper authorities, the next step should be consulting with an experienced Pittsburgh sexual assault attorney.

What laws govern sexual assault and sexual misconduct in Pennsylvania?

People who commit sexual abuse or assault typically face criminal charges, filed by the state. Some of the many laws that govern sexual abuse cases include:

  • The Crime Victims’ Rights Act. This law is a victim’s rights law that includes the right to be reasonably protected from the accused and the right to be reasonably heard.
  • The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. This is a workplace discrimination law that includes discrimination based on sexual harassment.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual harassment at the federal level.
  • Chapter 62A of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. This law, also known as the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act, “provides victims of sexual violence or intimidation a civil remedy that requires the offender to stay away from the victim regardless of whether the victim seeks criminal prosecution.” The law only applies to victims outside the victim’s family or household.
  • Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Section 3104, commonly referred to as “The Rape Shield Law,” “limits a defendant’s ability to introduce evidence or cross-examine rape complainants about their past sexual behavior that might undermine their credibility during proceedings.”

There are other federal and Pennsylvania laws designed to protect victims of sexual assault. The Pennsylvania Council Against Rape provides a summary of specific criminal laws.

Perpetrators of a sexual assault can also be subject to a civil claim for damages by the victim, which our attorneys can help you file. 

At Carmody and Ging, our Pittsburgh attorneys focus our litigation on the people and entities in authority who should have taken steps to prevent the assault from occurring. A financial damage award is often the strongest way to send a message to schools, colleges, churches, employers, nursing homes, and others that they need to take proactive steps to prevent assaults from happening, investigate assaults promptly, and provide counseling and related services for the victims of a sexual assault.

What compensation can I claim if I’m sexually assaulted in Pittsburgh?

Sexual abuse robs you of your dignity, your confidence, and your self-esteem. Most sexual assault victims require a lifetime of psychological help in addition to immediate medical help. At Carmody and Ging, we fight to restore the life you had before the sexual assault occurred. We demand compensation for all the harm caused by the assault including:

  • Physical harm. Many acts of sexual violence cause physical bruises, scarring, lacerations, broken bones, and other serious injuries. Victims are entitled to compensation for their ER bills, hospital bills, surgeries, rehabilitative therapy, medications, and assistive devices. Some assault survivors benefit from antidepressants and other prescribed medications.
  • Emotional harm. The trauma of a rape or any other type of sexual assault often lasts a lifetime. Victims are entitled to compensation from the responsible parties for the counseling they require, psychological care, and other emotional care. We speak with your doctors and other experts to fully understand the severity and scope of your trauma.
  • Lost income. We demand compensation for all your lost income and benefits if you cannot physically or emotionally return to work.

Our lawyers seek punitive damages against the assailant and against the other defendants who allowed the assault to happen. Some defendants may also be liable for your legal fees if their negligence allowed the assault to occur.

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When should I file my Pittsburgh sexual assault claim?

The best course of action is to contact us immediately. We work with sexual assault professionals who can help you begin to speak about what happened and obtain the medical care you need. Although not required, for best results, we need to coordinate your case with any criminal cases. Our Pittsburgh sexual assault lawyers will investigate what happened and determine who, in addition to the assailant, can be held responsible. We speak with the police, review any medical reports, and speak (often through a formal discovery process) with anyone who has knowledge of the sexual assault.

Prompt action not only helps your case, but it also helps prevent future sexual assaults.

Our lawyers will explain how much time you have to file your civil claim. There may be conditions for extending the time limit if the victim is a minor.

Do you have a sexual assault lawyer near me?

Carmody and Ging is located at 801 Vinial Street in Pittsburgh, on the 3rd floor of the Deutschtown Center building, with parking onsite. You can find us across the street from Penn Brewery. If you can’t reach us by car, there’s a bus stop on Troy Hill Road, around the corner. If your health prevents you from coming to our office, you have several options. Our lawyers conduct video conferences, and we can also make arrangements to meet clients at their homes, a hospital, or another healthcare facility.

We’ll guide you step-by-step through this traumatic time. You deserve to have your life, confidence, and spirit restored. We’ll help you hold wrongdoers accountable and begin to breathe again.

Speak with an experienced Pittsburgh sexual assault lawyer today

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It’s bad enough when a sexual assault occurs. It’s horrible when an employer, a school, or an organization that you trusted to have your best interests at heart creates an atmosphere where sexual assaults are allowed to happen. At Carmody and Ging, we fight to hold those who took your dignity and trust away accountable. To discuss your right to compensation after a sexual assault occurs, please call our Pittsburgh sexual assault lawyers at 412.281.2929 or complete our contact form. We proudly assert the rights of victims throughout Allegheny County.

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