Filing a Domestic Violence Lawsuit in DC

You may be reluctant about suing a family member who intentionally harmed you with acts of domestic violence. Common law 100 years ago prohibited spouses from suing each other and children from suing their parents to preserve the family unit. Now, the courts realize that those closest to you might be the ones harming you the most.

Domestic violence is a criminal charge but can be the basis for a civil lawsuit as well if you choose. We understand that facing an abusive partner, spouse, or other family member in court can be stressful. Our personal injury lawyers could help you take necessary legal action to receive compensatory damages and hold the opposing party accountable. Call one of our experienced attorneys today to learn more about filing a domestic violence lawsuit in DC.

Defining Domestic Violence

According to the Code of the District of Columbia § 4–551, domestic violence is abuse perpetrated by one partner against the other to control them. The threats or actions can be physical, sexual, economic, psychological, or emotional. A ‘partner’ can be a spouse, a live-in intimate partner, a date, or a family member. Abusers inflict their egregious behavior on those who trust and love them and should be held personally accountable for their actions and compensate those they hurt for what they have lost.

Double Jeopardy

Many people think they cannot hold their abusers personally accountable after criminal trials in which abusers are convicted for the crime of domestic violence, but they can. The District of Columbia brings criminal actions, while private citizens bring civil actions. The level of proof is different, beyond a reasonable doubt, in a criminal action and by the preponderance of the evidence in a tort claim. Because these actions do not amount to double jeopardy – trying the defendant twice for the same crime – personal injury attorneys in DC can assist in filing a domestic violence civil lawsuit, even after the abuser has been tried and convicted of criminal charges.

Compensation In Domestic Violence Injury Lawsuits

Similar to those injured by others in car wrecks or medical malpractice, partners who are injured by their abusers could pursue monetary compensation. Compensation includes economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.

Non-economic damages are more elusive, and a jury must attach an amount to emotional distress and psychological trauma. While some states cap non-economic damages, the District of Columbia does not. An injury attorney in DC could assist the plaintiff in recovering the most compensation possible after filing a domestic violence suit.

The District of Columbia’s Statute of Limitations

Any tort claim is restricted to a certain time frame. Exceeding the deadline bars any future compensation claim. The Code of DC § 12-301(8) establishes a default position for injury cases by limiting filing actions to three years.

However, the Code of DC § 12-301(11)(12) provides an exception for injuries sustained for sexual abuse, commonly carried out by partners as domestic violence. If a partner was sexually abused when they were younger than 35, the statute of limitations is open to file an injury lawsuit until the partner turns 40, or five years from when the partner knew they were being abused, whichever event is later.

If the partner is 35 or older, they have five years to file a personal injury lawsuit or five years from the time they should have reasonably known what they were experiencing was sexual abuse. The laws concerning filing a domestic violence claim in DC can be confusing, and an attorney could help navigate them.

Contact Our DC Attorneys For Help Filing a Domestic Violence Suit

If you found the courage to leave an abusive relationship, know that you are not alone. Whether criminal charges have been filed against your abuser or not, you can take back control of your life by filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover monetary damages.

When someone intentionally injures you physically, emotionally, or psychologically, they must be held accountable for their behavior. We could help you do that. Our personal injury attorneys could seek compensation and closure for you by filing a domestic violence lawsuit in DC. Call today to schedule an appointment with a lawyer to discuss your case.