California Attorney for Injured Victims of Domestic Abuse
Our California attorney for injured victims of domestic abuse is dedicated to providing empathic and professional legal assistance to individuals who suffered harm at the hands of a close family relative or partner. We understand the difficult situation you are going through and realize that there are benefits to pursuing a civil claim against your abuser. To schedule a free, confidential appointment to review your options, call the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555.
An Overview of California Domestic Abuse Victim Claims
Domestic abuse is a complex legal issue. California addresses the horrible act through its criminal, family, and civil court systems. First, domestic violence is a felony – individuals who abuse their spouses or partners are subject to criminal prosecution. Intentional infliction of bodily harm or emotional abuse is codified as a crime under California Penal Code section 273.5.
The California Domestic Violence Prevention Act addresses the effects and issues of domestic abuse through the family court. Primarily, the act is designed to offer victims a faster and more efficient process to obtain legal protections, including restraining orders.
While most Californians are familiar with the previous methods of addressing domestic abuse, many are not aware of a third option: domestic violence is recognized as a civil tort in California. This means that a victim of domestic abuse is entitled to file a lawsuit in civil court to seek monetary compensation and other available legal remedies. Victims can pursue this option whether or not they filed criminal charges against their abuser.
Definition of Domestic Abuse in California Civil Cases
The relationships in which domestic abuse can occur are limited. California law explicitly defines the type of relationships that fall under domestic violence. While the scope is narrowly defined, it includes much more than just husbands and wives.
In addition to a spouse, of any gender, former spouses are also included under the definition of a relationship. Furthermore, couples that currently live together or had lived together are included under the law. The definition further extends to parents who share a child or children and couples who are engaged or were engaged in a physical or dating relationship.
Can Victims File a Domestic Abuse Civil Lawsuit in California?
California Civil Code section 1708.6 lists the necessary elements our experienced domestic abuse attorney will have to demonstrate to file a successful lawsuit. The required elements include the following.
- The victim must have suffered an injury or harm
- The conduct was intentional
- The abuse was the legal cause of the injury
Our attorney will also have to comply with the statute of limitations when filing your civil claim. The lawsuit must be filed within three years of the last act of abuse. However, the statute does not start running until the abuse stops. Furthermore, a victim is entitled to collect compensation for the cumulative abuse throughout the history of the relationship.
Abuse is not limited to bodily injury. The California Code broadly defines abuse and a variety of conduct could be construed as abusive behavior for both civil and criminal cases. Some of the more common actions that result in harm are listed below.
- Physical attacks such as punching, kicking, choking, throwing
- Any unwanted physical or sexual contact, rape, or molestation
- Threatening to cause physical harm or intimidating a victim through fear or coercion
- Stealing or destroying the victim’s personal property
- Stalking or harassing through physical methods, telephone calls, mail, or online
Compensation Available to Victims of Domestic Abuse in California
There are several types of remedies available to victims of domestic abuse.
- Economic damages
- Noneconomic damages
- Punitive damages
- Injunctive relief
Economic damages are the easiest to understand and calculate. These are expenses and costs that arise from the injury or harm. For example, you could be compensated for medical costs associated with treatment or therapy, wages you lost if you were unable to work, and the cost of damaged or destroyed personal property.
While more challenging to quantify, noneconomic damages can be significant. The most common damage most people think of is pain and suffering. However, the range of harm that could result in awarded compensation is much greater. Some common adverse effects associated with abuse include emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, physical scars, and the inability to enjoy life. Our California attorneys will carefully review all of the facts surrounding your situation to make sure we list all of the harm you suffered.
If the actions of your abuser were especially heinous and severe, the court might award punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages for medical bills or pain and suffering, punitive damages are not directly related to your injury – instead, the award is meant as a punishment for the abuser.
Often, the remedies ordered by the court extend beyond monetary compensation. An injunction is a court order requiring the defendant to cease specific behavior. For example, the court could order the defendant from conducting business at your place of work. Whether or not injunctive relief is ordered will depend on the exact facts and circumstances surrounding your case.
Call Our California Attorney for Injured Victims of Domestic Abuse for a Free Consultation
The adverse impacts of domestic abuse are significant. Victims carry not only the physical scars but the emotional wounds that accompany such horrific conduct. Our California attorney for injured victims of domestic abuse understands that monetary compensation will not heal all of the pain. However, our Ventura personal injury lawyers have found that victims of abuse can benefit from a civil lawsuit. First, there is compensation for the expenses and costs associated with abuse and the financial means to move forward. And second, many individuals find solace and strength in being an active player in their legal process. If you were the victim of domestic abuse, call the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 for a confidential and free appointment to discuss your options.