Sexual Assault and Abuse Lawyers

How Do Sexual Assault & Sexual Abuse Lawyers Help You Recover?

By standing up to perpetrators of sexual assault and abuse, you can secure resources, find closure, and protect your community. Your strength can help save others.

Sexual assault and sexual abuse are dehumanizing violations that can be perpetrated against children, women, and men. These incidents can happen in schools, places of worship, or on the job. In every instance, such treatment is totally unacceptable, and you have power via the law to hold abusers accountable.

The attorneys at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann are ready to support your journey towards justice. We do this by securing any evidence in your case, identifying all the responsible parties involved (individuals and institutions), and taking them to court if necessary.

Reach out to the lawyers at our Birmingham offices online, or by calling (205) 322-8880 to schedule a free, completely confidential consultation. For more information about the legalities in sexual abuse and assault cases, read on, and remember that real help from compassionate professionals is just one phone call away.

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What Defines Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse?

Sexual assault and sexual abuse are two similar but legally distinct terms. The differences in how they are used and applied are as follows:

  • Sexual assault is usually physical, and involves any sexual behavior or contact that occurs without explicit consent. This could include unwanted touching, rape, attempted rape, or forcing a person to view or perform sexual acts.
  • Sexual abuse can be used to describe all of the above forms of assault. It can also refer to instances of sexual coercion (using threats or intimidation to compel sexual compliance), or sexual activity with those too young or unable to consent (like medical patients with cognitive disorders).

These two terms are often used interchangeably, as their definitions can overlap. Sexual abuse and assault can happen anywhere, day or night, in places like bars, rideshare cars, office parties, classrooms, or churches. Nowhere are these behaviors acceptable.

Whatever term you use to describe what happened, the fact remains that any sexual conduct or contact that isn’t entered into with consent by adults of sound mind is intolerable. The law recognizes that, and you have legal options going forward.

What happens now is based on what’s best for you. There are legal actions you can take to recover damages, expose wrongdoers, and make your surroundings safer.

What Damages Are Available in a Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

Civil lawsuits are separate from criminal charges. In a civil suit, you can seek compensation that covers:

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Medical bills for both physical and psychological treatments

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Lost wages or employment related to your injuries

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Pain and suffering damages for conditions like PTSD, anxiety, and depression

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Punitive damages, which are funds charged to punish wrongdoers that can then be awarded to you

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Wrongful death damages in cases where the person assaulted lost their life due to the incident, whether from fatal injuries or suicide

The long-term effect of sexual abuse and assault include persistent fears, unjust feelings of guilt and shame, difficulty maintaining intimate relationships, and higher instances of suicidal thoughts, actions, and self-harm. These injuries are just as real as physical wounds, and a skilled attorney can describe these damages in court to assure that all your losses are compensated to the full extent of the law.

Sexual assault can cost survivors over $200,000 in a lifetime of medical expenses, criminal justice efforts, and lost productivity. Child survivors especially may experience compounding losses over the years. These costs should not be yours alone—hold those who harmed you responsible for the damage they’ve done.

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What Is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Assault?

The “burden of proof” refers to the need for enough information and evidence to decide whether an accusation is true or false. For a sexual assault civil lawsuit, that means proving that:

  1. Sexual misconduct occurred
  2. That the incident caused harm
  3. The harm cost you in emotional distress, lost time, money spent for treatment, or all of the above

In a civil lawsuit, the burden of proof is much lower than in a criminal case. That means that even if a criminal charge is never brought, or the perpetrator is not convicted, you can still win in civil court. Your lawyer will do the work needed to build your case, allowing you to heal in peace.

Here are examples of the types of evidence your attorney may present in court:

  • Witnesses who can attest to the sexual assault, who can contradict a false alibi put forth by the perpetrator, or who can repeat what they heard or saw after the incident (including if you disclosed what happened right after)
  • Medical and therapy records of injuries you suffered or psychological treatment you sought
  • Communications had by you and the abuser, either in direct messages with you (common in intimate partner assaults), or conversations they had with others that may show proof of their guilt

Your attorney has the ability to obtain documents and other forms of evidence through legal demands. We can also compel witnesses to testify even if they don’t want to, such as with friends of the perpetrator. The law is on the side of the truth, and our skilled lawyers may be able to access proof that otherwise would be hidden. We leave no stone unturned in pursuing justice for you.

Many survivors find legal victories healing. A settlement or verdict in civil court acknowledges your truth, exposes your abuser, and provides real monetary relief that you can then use to move forward towards a brighter future.

Who Can Sue for Sexual Assault, Abuse, or Battery?

Those who may be able to sue over a sexual abuse incident include:

  • The person who was assaulted, molested, or sexually abused
  • Certain family members of the person assaulted, like parents or spouses
  • Surviving heirs of the person assaulted, if they passed away
  • Witnesses who were traumatized by what happened (for example, if they feared they would be assaulted as well)

Any survivor of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual battery may have the ability to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser, and any other person or institution that enabled them.

If you feel you were victimized by a sexual assault and wish to pursue legal action, contact our attorneys at (205) 322-8880 to explore your options.

Do I Need to File Criminal Charges First?

No, criminal charges or criminal convictions are not required before you are allowed to file a civil lawsuit over sexual abuse. If you were assaulted, you have the right to say so, and you may choose to file a claim against the perpetrator.

You may also have the option to press criminal charges if you report the incident to law enforcement, and they find the information actionable. Every state has unique policies related to holding sexual abusers criminally accountable. An introductory state-by-state guide can be found here.

Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann is a personal injury firm working specifically on the civil side of the justice system. You can contact us at (205) 322-8880 to discuss your case, your legal options, and what our team can do to help you recover.

How Long Do I Have to Bring a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Assault or Abuse?

Every state has its own deadline when it comes to sexual assault and abuse lawsuits. Those deadlines are known as “statutes of limitations” and are intended to make sure cases are brought while evidence and memories are still fresh.

However, in cases of sexual assault, delays in reporting are common. A person may fear retaliation at work, may lack the resources to escape an abusive domestic relationship, or (in cases of child sexual abuse) may not realize that they have been sexually violated until years later.

Some states are expanding these deadlines specifically for sexual assault cases, but many have not. Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann is headquartered in Alabama, where there are very few exceptions to the strict civil lawsuit limits of two years from the date of a sexual assault, and five years from an offense of sexual abuse.

That being said, in Alabama there is no civil limit for cases of rape, or if the sexual abuse was against a minor.

It is vitally important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an incident of sexual assault or sexual abuse. Let your attorney gather information before it’s hidden or becomes corrupted — like forgotten memories, contaminated evidence, or lost security footage. Once the evidence is secure, you can decide what to do before the window for justice closes.

Contact Experienced Sexual Assault & Abuse Attorneys

Sexual assault and sexual abuse offenses don’t just violate a person’s body, but also their dignity and humanity. These inexcusable acts deserve to be called out, and the perpetrators exposed.

One of the most direct ways you can take control is with a civil lawsuit. In civil court, the burden of proof is lower than in criminal cases, and your rights and needs are centered. If you’re ready to speak out, our attorneys are ready to stand by your side.

Contact Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann by filling out our online form, or by calling (205) 322-8880. Our vast experience with sensitive personal injury cases means your boundaries will be respected and your dignity honored. Your choice to pursue the justice you deserve could help punish predators and make the world safer for others just like you.

What Do Our Clients Say?

Ruth Weakley

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I highly recommend this law firm.  I was always kept informed of any progress in my case.  Any time I called them my concerns were met.  Attorney Jon Mann was always very through in his responses.  I can't thank this law firm for taking excellent care of my case.

Beth Huffstutler

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The assistance we received from Mike Bradley has been a great experience. Mike communicated directly with us, answering our questions and concerns. He was always upfront and honest about our case. I would trust him completely with any legal matter. Mike's years of experience and extensive knowledge is evident in every interaction. Great attorney and firm!

Lee Huffstutler

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Outstanding firm!  Extremely pleased with the service, consistency & hard work of the firm as a whole and Michael Bradley as my representative.

Without a doubt, I would recommend anyone who is in need of a personal injury attorney to give Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann a call - good people that strive to look after your interests. Thanks for all you have done!

Larry Smith

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I have nothing but great things to say about this firm. Initially I mostly spoke to Rebecca & she made me feel very comfortable in a stressful situation. Later many of my calls were with Jon Mann & he also spoke to me with respect & thoughtfulness. Kind of strange but a close bond between lawyers & a client but not only did we discuss the matter at hand but we would discuss our personal lives & the good & bad going on in my life & their concern for my health was comforting. I would definitely recommend this firm! Keep up the great work guys.

Doris M.

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I feel very fortunate to have met this firm. During the first conference, my attorney made me feel totally at ease when sharing my situation with him. He has a way about him that makes you feel his sincerity and honesty. Thank you for taking my burden and for the wonderful job that you did to complete my case successfully. I am VERY PLEASED!

Cathye H.

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My case was one that was a part of a nationwide claim. I researched and prayed for the appropriate attorney and I found that in Mike Bradley. While my case lasted, Mike and his assistant Karen stayed current and knowledgeable on the status and updates. I never once called or emailed that one of them didn't respond to me immediately. Mike would call to answer an email because he felt it would be more personal and efficient than typing. I highly recommend this firm.

Tyna B.

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I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Jon Mann of Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann. I am so grateful for your knowledge, passion, dedication, and professionalism you have exhibited through this entire ordeal. Mr. Jon Mann took in all the relevant information, analyzed it and created a plan to settle my case. Again, I value the help you've given me. Thank you!!

Emily W.

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I was very pleased with the work that Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann did for us. I had been injured in a car accident and was in quite a bit of pain for sometime. They always treated me like a person and not a case—never failed to return a call and kept us apprised of what was going on. I had a time when I had to be totally focused on recovery, they were able to take care of the situation and I didn’t have to worry about it. I owe this firm a lot of thanks.

Luxi Choi

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Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann prides themselves on hard work and proven results.They earnestly work to provide the best outcomes for their clients. It's truly been an honor to work with them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can other forms of abuse contribute to sexual assault cases?

Sexual assaults come in many different forms, and sometimes involve other forms of abuse such as:

  • Intimate partner abuse — Marital or domestic partner sexual assaults often overlap with other forms of coercion like:
  • Physical violence
  • Financial manipulation by withholding funds
  • Threats involving children, either to harm them or take them in a divorce
  • Child abuse — Sexual abuse of a child could be part of an overall pattern of abuse that includes:
  • Neglect of sanitary or nutritional needs
  • Physical abuse described as “punishment”
  • Verbal abuse meant to intimidate, silence, and isolate the child
  • Workplace harassment — Sexual misconduct in the workplace often involves:
  • The abuse of power via humiliation and bullying
  • Threatening a person's livelihood by docking pay or withholding benefits
  • Jeopardizing the well-being of their entire family by threatening termination

If your sexual assault case involves other elements of abuse, rest assured that our attorneys will assist you with every aspect we can to ensure your needs are met.

What are the 3 types of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment can escalate to sexual abuse and assault if it’s not recognized and stopped soon enough. Knowing these signs can help protect you and others.

The three main types of sexual harassment are:

  • Verbal/written: Catcalling, inappropriate remarks, or unwanted solicitations through notes, emails, or other written communications
  • Visual: Forcing someone to look at unwelcome, offensive, or inappropriate images like sexually explicit drawings or photos
  • Physical: Unwanted physical contact, including touching, squeezing, brushing or rubbing against, fondling, and rude gestures

These boundaries can be crossed at work, school, houses of worship, or in other places where you have a right to safety. If you have been treated inappropriately, you may have the grounds to sue for sexual harassment.

What is institutional sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse and assault are sometimes ignored or even facilitated by institutions like corporations, nursing homes, hospitals, churches, orphanages, militaries, prisons, and rehab clinics. In these situations, the abuse may continue long past the assault due to efforts to silence you or cover up what happened.

In such instances, your attorney can help you pursue a case against the organization itself. Such actions help reveal the wrongdoers in companies and churches, and can even lead to class action lawsuits that help achieve justice for many.

What should be your first steps if you are sexually assaulted?

Your first priority after a sexual attack is to find a safe place and reach out to someone you trust. That may be a friend or family member you know, or a professional you can rely on. The next step is to seek medical attention if you’ve been injured — the person you trust can help you get there and stay by your side.

After that, with every step you take, a lawyer can help. We can advise you on your interactions with law enforcement, gather and preserve evidence, and negotiate on your behalf so you do not have to be re-traumatized by confronting the perpetrator or their defenders by yourself (or at all).

Reach out to Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann online or by calling (205) 322-8880. You are not alone—our team is here for you.


Are you ready to tell your story?

Using the web form below will begin the process of your free consultation, which is confidential and carries no obligation to hire our firm. Considering your safety, our consultations may be done via telephone or a video call format. During business hours expect to receive a return phone call within an hour. You will speak with one of our top-rated attorneys during your consultation who will attempt to provide you with reliable answers to your legal questions. We look forward to assisting you!

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