I was sexually assaulted. Who can I sue?

Who can I sue?

You can, of course, sue the individual who sexually assaulted you. To do so, it is best (although not necessary in all cases) if this individual is still alive, his or her whereabouts known and he or she has sufficient assets to pay you compensation (bearing in mind that he or she may also have to pay a lawyer). Where other persons have allowed or encouraged the sexual abuse to happen, you may also sue them. This could include an individual like a parent or relative who turned a blind eye to the abuse, or worse still, helped it to happen. It could also include an organization or institution with which the abuser was associated or which employed the abuser. For example, a religious body that placed the abuser in a position of trust and authority over vulnerable individuals may be liable. Such organizations or institutions can be directly liable for doing or failing to do things that facilitated the abuse, or they may be indirectly liable based on “vicarious liability”, which is a no-fault principle of liability that can apply where employers have done nothing obvious or direct to cause the abuse to happen. One potential advantage to suing an organization or institution is that it may have insurance coverage, which can make recovery of compensation easier.

This is general information only, and is not intended as legal advice. If you have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer for advice specific to your situation.

Elizabeth Grace heads the Toronto office sexual assault group, she is a partner at the Ontario law firm, Lerners LLP, and has specialized in sexual assault matters for almost two decades now. See her professional biography for more information about Elizabeth and her work in the area of civil liability for sexual abuse.

Elizabeth Grace

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