Suing Domestic Violence Abusers In Civil Court

Suing Domestic Violence Abusers In Civil Court

by Feb 13, 2019Domestic Violence

There are many different types of domestic violence that can occur between people. While most of them can be charged as a criminal offense in California, many people don’t know that the abuser also incurs civil liability for their actions as well. This means that victims of domestic violence can actually sue their abusers in civil court for damages.

Unlike a criminal trial where abusers face punishment in the form of jail time, suing domestic violence abusers in civil court provides a way for victims whose personal and professional lives have been harmed to get justice for themselves directly. Suing for damages typically results in one or two possible outcomes:

  • Monetary Damages: The abuser must pay the victim an amount decided by the court (or jury) as compensation for their actions.
  • Injunctive Relief: The court orders the abuser to stop (or start) doing certain things. If they don’t, they face additional punishment.

These outcomes are not mutually exclusive. It’s actually very common for both damages and some form of injunction to be awarded to a domestic violence victim if they win their lawsuit in civil court.

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Criminal vs Civil Domestic Violence Charges

It doesn’t matter if an abuser is already facing criminal charges for domestic violence, the victim can bring a civil lawsuit regardless of the outcome of a criminal case.

The most famous example of this is the O.J. Simpson case. While he was found innocent at his criminal trial, he was found liable for the death of Ronald Goldman in civil court and the jury awarded Mr. Goldman’s parents twenty-five million dollars.

Even if an abuser is found innocent of the criminal charges brought against them, that outcome has no bearing on a victim’s right to sue them in civil court.

When To Sue An Abusive Partner

Along with the physical and emotional trauma that domestic violence has on a victim, there is often economic trauma as well. Domestic violence victims may miss work, be unable to take care of children or other family, or incur medical expenses as a result of being abused.

These types of economic trauma can be just as severe as the physical and emotional components, and in many cases the only way for a victim to recover from them is to sue their abuser in court.

Bringing a lawsuit can help a victim recover from:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering

Additionally, a jury may award a victim money in the form of punitive damages. This is extra money an abuser is forced to pay as additional punishment for their actions.

Hiring An Attorney

It can be difficult for victims of domestic violence to find the courage to talk to an attorney. Many victims would rather not pursue litigation simply because they don’t want to have to continue dealing with the abuser and the trauma of their abuse any longer.

However, many victims that do decide to pursue suing domestic violence abusers in civil court fine that it returns a sense of control to their lives, and often emotional relief a well. At Vonder Haar Law, we have extensive experience working with domestic violence victims. We are here to help empower and assist in any way we can.

To learn more, or to get help, please contact us.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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