Bridgeport, WV Personal Injury Attorney | Desai Law

What Are the Legal Options for Victims of Medical Provider Sexual Assault?

If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual assault by a medical provider in Morgantown, West Virginia, it’s important to know that you have legal options. A skilled Morgantown sexual assault lawyer can help you understand your rights and pursue justice. 

Here, Chirag Desai of Desai Law in Morgantown will go over some key information about medical provider sexual assault and discuss the steps you can take to hold the perpetrator accountable.

What is Medical Provider Sexual Assault?

Medical provider sexual assault is a type of sexual abuse that occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare worker engages in sexual contact with a patient without their consent. This can include inappropriate touching, sexual comments or advances, or even rape. It’s a serious violation of trust and ethics, as patients put their well-being in the hands of medical professionals and expect to be treated with dignity and respect.

Unfortunately, sexual assault by medical providers is more common than many people realize. Victims may be hesitant to come forward out of shame, fear of not being believed, or worry that it will negatively impact their medical care. But it’s important for survivors to know that what happened to them was not their fault and that there is help available.

Seeking Medical Attention

If you have been sexually assaulted by a medical provider, the first priority should be your health and safety. It’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don’t have any visible injuries. You can go to a hospital emergency room or a specialized sexual assault treatment center. Let the medical staff know that you have been assaulted so they can provide appropriate care and document any evidence.

You do not have to report the assault to law enforcement in order to receive medical treatment. However, if you do decide to involve the police, the hospital can assist with the process and provide any forensic evidence collected during your exam. Either way, getting prompt medical care can help protect your health and strengthen your legal case down the road.

Reporting the Assault

Once you have taken care of your immediate medical needs, you may want to consider reporting the sexual assault to the proper authorities. This can help hold the perpetrator accountable and potentially prevent them from harming others in the future.

There are a few different ways you can report medical provider sexual assault:

  • To the Police: If you want to pursue criminal charges, you can file a police report with your local law enforcement agency. They will investigate the assault and, if there is enough evidence, may arrest the perpetrator and bring charges against them. You can decide whether and how much to cooperate with the police investigation and potential prosecution.
  • To the Medical Licensing Board: You can file a complaint against the medical provider with the state medical board that issued their license. The board will review the complaint and may take disciplinary action against the provider, such as suspending or revoking their license, issuing fines, or requiring additional training or oversight. This process is separate from the criminal justice system.
  • To the Medical Facility: You can report the assault to the hospital, clinic, or facility where it occurred. They should have policies and procedures in place for handling allegations of sexual misconduct by staff. They may conduct an internal investigation, take disciplinary action against the provider, and/or report the matter to law enforcement and the licensing board.
  • To a Civil Attorney: You can discuss your legal options with an experienced sexual assault lawyer who can advise you on filing a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and/or the facility where the assault occurred. A civil case can provide financial compensation for the harm you suffered and hold the responsible parties accountable.

It’s up to you to decide whether and how to report the assault. Some survivors choose to pursue all of the above avenues, while others may only feel comfortable with one or two. At Desai Law, our experienced sexual assault team can help you weigh your options and make informed decisions.

Legal Options After Medical Provider Sexual Assault

Survivors of medical provider sexual assault have several legal options to seek justice and compensation for the harm they’ve suffered.

These include:

Criminal Prosecution

If the perpetrator is arrested and charged with a crime, they will face prosecution in the criminal justice system. Sexual assault is a felony offense in West Virginia, punishable by significant prison time.

As the victim, you would be considered a witness in the criminal case. The prosecutor would handle the litigation, but you may be asked to testify. If the perpetrator is convicted, they would face criminal penalties and may have to register as a sex offender.

Civil Lawsuit

Regardless of whether there is a criminal case, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and potentially the medical facility or institution where the assault occurred. A civil case is separate from the criminal justice process. Instead of jail time, the goal is to recover monetary damages for the physical, emotional, and financial impact of the assault.

Some of the damages you may be able to recover in a civil sexual assault lawsuit include:

  • Medical expenses for treating injuries and mental health conditions related to the assault
  • Lost wages if you had to miss work due to the assault or its aftermath
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Punitive damages to punish especially egregious conduct

To prevail in a civil lawsuit, you need to prove liability by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a lower standard than in criminal court. This means demonstrating that the defendant is more likely than not to have committed the assault and is legally responsible for your damages.

There may be multiple parties who are liable in a medical sexual assault case:

  • The individual medical provider who committed the assault can be sued based on theories like battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • If the assault happened in the context of medical treatment, the facility or institution that employed the provider may be vicariously liable for their employee’s misconduct.
  • The facility may also be directly liable for its own negligence in failing to properly screen, train, or supervise the provider or for not having adequate policies to protect patients from sexual abuse.
  • In some cases, other entities like medical staffing agencies or contractor companies may share liability.

At Desai Law, our Morgantown sexual assault team can thoroughly investigate your case, identify all the potentially liable parties, and build the strongest claim for maximum compensation.

Other Options to Hold Perpetrators Accountable

In addition to criminal and civil legal proceedings, survivors may have other options to hold perpetrators accountable and seek justice:

  • Colleges and universities have established disciplinary procedures for handling sexual misconduct by students and staff under Title IX. If the perpetrator is affiliated with a school, you may be able to file a complaint and request accommodations.
  • If the assault occurred in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you may be able to file a formal grievance or request a formal proceeding by the state ombudsman or health department that oversees those facilities.
  • Some workplaces and professional organizations have codes of conduct that prohibit sexual misconduct and assault. You may choose to file an internal complaint or grievance if the perpetrator is a member of that group.

Contact Morgantown Sexual Assault Lawyer Chirag Desai Today

Remember, you have the right to hold your abuser accountable and demand justice. The sooner you take action, the better your chances of a successful outcome. If you’re ready to discuss your legal options after a medical provider sexual assault, contact Morgantown sexual assault lawyer Chirag Desai today.

Call (304) 974-1974 or send us a message online to schedule your free consultation. You are not alone, and we are here to fight for you.


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