Schools are meant to be a safe place for education as well as personal and professional growth. But when a student is physically assaulted it can become difficult to maintain any forward momentum, and often feels paralyzing. Unfortunately, sexual assault in both grade schools and college education systems, whether public or private, is far more prevalent than most people realize. Approximately 13% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Sadly, a large majority of physical and sexual assaults go unreported.
If you or your child has experienced assault at school or an off-campus school function, it is important to understand your options for school assault legal recourse. You have a voice and the right to seek justice against the perpetrator for the physical, mental, emotional, and financial harm they have caused.
What Constitutes Assault in West Virginia?
Assault is an attempt to evoke violence or impose severe and violent injury with the potential of executing the violent act. Battery, on the other hand, is an intentional physical act causing physical harm or humiliating or provoking to a great extent. Assault and battery are often tried together in criminal cases. There are multiple types of assault in West Virginia, all of which could occur on a school or college campus.
Simple assault is an act or behavior that threatens someone with violence with the intent of causing harm. The perpetrator does not need to have a weapon or make any sort of physical contact to have committed a simple assault.
A malicious assault occurs when the perpetrator attempts to physically injure, cut, stab, or shoot a person with the goal of serious injury such as disfiguring, disabling, or death. There is usually a deadly weapon involved in a malicious assault.
Any time a person engages in sexual intercourse or any sort of sexual intrusion with another person without their consent, sexual assault has occurred. Generally, the lack of consent results from forcible compulsion. Lack of consent also exists if the victim is physically or mentally unable to legally consent to a sexual act. This could be the case due to physical or mental handicaps, inebriation, or age. There are multiple degrees of sexual assault based on the specific details of the act. The more egregious the act, the higher the consequence.
School Assault Legal Recourse
Assault of any kind is unacceptable. Depending on the details of your claim and your ability to acquire solid evidence, you may be able to bring both civil and criminal charges. The cases will be heard separately but may occur in the same timeframe, but not in the same court.
The consequences issued by each court are different. In criminal court, the case is brought by the district attorney and conviction can result in fines, incarceration, probation, and a permanent record, depending on the nature of the assault. Civil cases are brought by the victim to achieve financial compensation for damages incurred because of the assault.
An experienced attorney can evaluate the facts of your case to help you understand the legal pathways for assault survivors and the best options to bring a successful case.
Who Is Liable for School Physical Assault?
The perpetrator of the assault is always directly responsible for the assault and should be brought to justice. In some cases, there may be third parties who are additionally liable for enabling the behavior or failing to protect you.
For example, if the perpetrator was a staff or faculty member of the school or university, the educational institution must conduct a thorough background check to ensure the individual is safe to be around students. The school is also responsible for addressing behavior that happens on campus. For many students, physical assault is perpetrated by other students. It is also worth noting that staff and faculty can also be victims of school assault.
In colleges, where there is less control over who is on campus, an assault could also come from someone not associated with the institution at all. It is important to understand college assault legal rights and to hold those responsible for your safety liable for their failure.
Sexual Assault at School
The most common situation for school sexual abuse and assault involves adults in a position of authority abusing their power over vulnerable students. Sexual abuse does not necessarily have a physical contact component, but certainly can. For example, a professor may require or imply that they will fail a student unless they provide sexual favors. Perpetrators of school sexual assault and abuse can include:
- Adjunct faculty,
- Support staff,
- Janitors, and
- Bus drivers.
Sexual assault can also be perpetrated by other students. In all cases, it is important to inform the educational institution and local law enforcement. School teachers, administrators, and other staff are considered mandatory reporters, which means that if they have any reason to suspect abuse or assault, they are required to report it to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Compensation for Assault Survivors
Compensation is available by bringing a civil lawsuit against both the perpetrator of the assault and any person or party whose actions facilitated or negligently disregarded the assault that occurred. Assault survivors may seek compensation for economic damage such as medical expenses, and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering. It is important to take into consideration both the current and long-term impact of damages suffered when valuing a claim.
Contact Campbell & Smith, PLLC
We understand that you are a real person and not a number on a case file. At Campbell & Smith, we are dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive personalized representation that reflects their goals in choosing to pursue justice and compensation. We can help you understand your options for school assault legal recourse and walk you through the process. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.