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I was sexually assaulted in a hotel. What are my rights?

Q:

I was sexually assaulted in a hotel. What are my rights?

A:

Sexual assault is a very serious crime that often happens in locations where temporary housing is offered. Many people stay in hotels on a regular basis, and often the stay is for an extended period of time. This means that hotel residents will regularly be in a position to meet and interact with individuals whom they do not really know. This scenario can leave certain individuals vulnerable to potential criminal physical attack for various intents of the attacker, and the possibility of rape is clearly one of those criminal vulnerabilities.

The Importance of Reporting the Crime

Any rights of rape victims will begin with reporting the act to the local police as soon as possible. It is important to report it to the hotel as well, but reporting the crime to the police will prevent the hotel management team from attempting to cover up the event. Any rape that occurs on corporate property puts the liability squarely on the hotel company for failure to exercise a reasonable duty of care. Resident safety is first and foremost the job of the hotel security team.

Documentation of the rape will be necessary to file any legal claim, including documentation such as medical records from treatment facilities after the fact. The medical professionals actually validate the level of physical damage, which will impact the final financial settlement of any civil claim. Report the action quickly and seek medical attention immediately.

Criminal Rights

Any victim of a rape has the same rights as any other crime victim in terms of accusing an attacker. Identification of the culprit can be problematic in some rape cases, and in hotel cases the crime can easily be committed by members of the staff. Certain members of the hotel staff have access to all room keys, as well as the guest's personal information in some cases.

Regardless of the hotel security guest protection policy, information and room keys can often be accessed by unauthorized staff members. Your personal injury lawyer will also be allowed to investigate the crime along with the police report and apply any criminal activity to the personal injury civil proceedings. Many times, the actual perpetrator can be sued when they can be apprehended and identified.

Civil Claims Rights

In order to win a personal injury claim against a respondent, it is still a requirement for the plaintiff legal counsel to prove negligence on the part of the respondent, and that the negligence resulted in personal injury to the claimant. Some states actually use a doctrine of reasonable assumption of risk, but a hotel corporation would have a difficult time presenting this defense.

However, when a claim is being defended, the legal process can still be distressing. The hotel will usually have an insurance company involved in any civil claim, and they also have legal input. Proving a personal injury and non-economic pain and suffering claim can be difficult and complicated when multiple legal teams are involved. But when accurate documentation can be accumulated and provided in the court petition, the standard rules apply—requiring proof of negligence on the part of the respondent hotel. Criminal convictions against the accused can also be used as material case facts in a civil claim, especially when the attacker is also being sued along with the hotel.

Retain an Attorney to Ensure Your Rights are Protected

Many times, the police do not investigate a rape case beyond the original crime scene investigation. In addition, the police have no responsibilities regarding the civil claim because they deal strictly with criminal law. All rapes carry a potential component of both legal actions, and having an experienced and aggressive personal injury attorney can also mean that the culprit can be found in some cases when the police will allow the case to go cold. Just because the police say that they have other priorities does not mean that the victim does not still have legal rights. However, it may require a public advocate and personal injury attorney to bring about the best possible legal recourse.

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Written by Justipedia Staff
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Whether you're facing a legal issue or just seeking information, Justipedia aims to be your most trusted resource for legal information on the Web. With the help of legal professionals across the country, we put the law in plain language to help answer your top legal questions.

Justipedia was founded by Internet veterans Cory Janssen and Mitchell Allen. Janssen founded Investopedia.com and grew it one of the largest investing sites on the Web. Allen is an author, speaker and the founder of LeadRival, the leading provider of pay-per-action advertising in consumer legal services.

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