Filing a Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against the Military

We Represent Victims of Military Sexual Abuse at Naval Station Norfolk and All Over Virginia

For many years it was assumed that military sexual assault survivors were unable to pursue damages against the government. A recent case, however, may enable troops who have suffered abuse, assault, or trauma to seek compensation from the military. At Virginia Beach Injury Law, we provide dedicated representation for survivors of military sexual abuse and assault. Attorney and founder Ron Kramer II is a United States Marine Corps veteran who understands the unique needs of servicemembers. If you were sexually assaulted while serving in the military, contact our office at (757) 802-4662 to schedule a free consultation. 

Who Can Seek Compensation From the Military?

While the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows individuals to file a claim against the government if they are injured by the wrongful or negligent act of a federal employee acting within the scope of their duties, members of the armed forces were generally excluded from making such claims.  Under the Feres Doctrine, it was assumed that military service members injured within the course of their duty were unable to sue the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Today, however, a recent court decision may help troops and members of the armed forces pursue compensation from the military in cases of sexual assault. The decision may help current and former members of the military who experienced military sexual trauma (MST) sue the government for damages. 

Is the Military Liable for Damages?

The Feres Doctrine, which dates back to the 1950s, had only one exception. A member of the armed forces could sue for damages if their injuries were the result of medical malpractice. Recently, however, a panel of judges out of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found that the doctrine does not apply to cases of sexual assault since sexual assault count not serve any military purpose. The panel upheld a lower court decision to let a sexual assault case against a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff move forward to trial.  Because the lawsuit was filed directly against the former vice chairman, it is unclear whether the military will be held liable for damages in this case. However, he is represented by attorneys with the Department of Justice who have argued that it falls within their jurisdiction. The recent decision may still end up allowing survivors of military sexual trauma and assault to sue the perpetrator and the government.

How Long Do I Have to Seek Compensation?

Despite many sexual assault survivors being afraid to come forward out of fear of retaliation, they may only have a limited amount of time to seek compensation against the military. It is important to report the incident and contact an attorney as soon as possible.  In civilian cases, a person who was an adult at the time of the sexual assault has two years from the date of the incident to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator or a responsible third party.  When filing a claim against the government, you may have a much shorter time frame. A military sexual assault attorney can help you understand your rights and the statute of limitations for filing a case against the government.

How Widespread Is Military Sexual Assault?

According to DAV, approximately 25% of all women in the military have experienced some form of sexual harassment. 1 in 16 women has suffered sexual assault while serving. It is believed that the majority of military sexual trauma cases go unreported. Those that are reported routinely get denied or are improperly processed.

What Is Military Sexual Trauma (MST)?

Military sexual trauma can take many forms. The impact of sexual assault or abuse is often long-lasting and life-changing. Many sexual trauma survivors report serious physical and mental health conditions caused by their abuse. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines military sexual trauma as:
  • Sexual acts that are forced or coerced
  • Non-consensual sexual contact
  • Being pressured to do sexual activities
  • Sexual touching that is not agreed to or makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Lewd or sexual comments that you find threatening
  • Unwanted sexual advances
It is important to know that you are not alone and that you have rights. Military sexual assault and abuse happen to both men and women. It can be perpetrated by superiors as well as individuals with an equal or lower rank than you. 

Can I Sue the Military for Sexual Assault?

It is believed that the decision of the panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will allow survivors of sexual assault to sue the military. Pursuant to their opinion, the Feres Doctrine does not apply since sexual assault does not serve a military purpose and is not incident to service.

Get the Legal Help You Need and Deserve

Were you sexually assaulted while serving in the military? You might be entitled to compensation. Contact our office at (757) 802-4662 to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. Call now to schedule your free, confidential case evaluation. 

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