Ask yourself these questions to know if you should sue your abuser:
- Is the state pursuing a criminal case?
- Have you incurred financial damages related to your injuries?
- Is the person a threat to other children?
- Is your abuser still alive?
- Would testifying as a witness provide you with a safe and cathartic way to overcome the trauma?
If you answered yes to any of these questions or simply want to hold your abuser accountable, you may want to consider taking legal action against your abuser. You can discuss your potential case with a child sexual assault lawyer to gain more insight into your legal options.
Your Legal Options for Recourse
When it comes to child sexual assault, the decision of whom to sue and whether it is worth going through the legal process depends on several factors. The process of testifying in child sex abuse cases can be both cathartic and difficult, so the decision must not be made lightly or without careful consideration.
A National Public Radio interview on “All Things Considered” highlights how multiple people and organizations can face liability as a result of child abuse. There are the organizations and institutions that allow the abuse to take place, as well as any teachers, doctors, or parents who knew about the abuse and failed to report it. There might be multiple parties liable that you could sue.
When it comes to suing your abuser, you have several options, including:
- A criminal case through the state.
- A civil case against the abuser.
- A civil case against other responsible parties.
These are just some of the options for legal recourse that are available, but there could be others, depending on where you live, how old you are when you report the abuse, and other factors. According to the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, seeking justice plays a vital role in the recovery process for sexual assault survivors. Pursuing justice through the courts can provide victims with a sense of empowerment and control by holding the person responsible.
Civil vs. Criminal Cases
For child sexual assault cases, you have two primary routes to seek justice: civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions. In civil cases, the victim or a loved one brings charges against the responsible party, often with the help of a child sexual assault lawyer. The goal of a civil case is generally monetary compensation. If you win, the assailant will not go to jail or have a criminal record.
With a criminal case, the state brings criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator. If found guilty, they will have a criminal record and face potential jail time. A judge can also order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim for any damages they incurred.
Possibly Recoverable Compensation
The types of compensation that you could possibly recover from your civil child sexual assault case will vary based on the specifics of what happened. According to a sexual abuse attorney with our firm, prior cases of child sexual assault have secured compensation for economic damages such as therapy expenses, lost wages, and medical bills, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. The list of potential damages is long, as sexual assault leaves life-long marks and consequences: substance abuse, sleep disorders, suicide attempts, clinical depression, panic attacks, self-destructive behaviors, and more. While it is hard to assign a monetary value to such ordeals, a competent attorney can obtain compensatory or even punitive damages from the party or parties at fault.
You may have questions about what kind of potential compensation you could expect to receive should you choose to sue your abuser. You can consult with a child sexual assault lawyer who can give you more information about your legal options.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the length of time that a victim has to pursue legal action against the person responsible for their injuries. For child sexual assault cases, the statutes of limitations vary by state based on the victim’s age when the incident occurred.
There has been a general movement toward increasing the amount of time that victims can seek out legal justice, as many were too young or traumatized to pursue legal action within the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases. However, not every state that has proposed bills to lengthen the time limit has passed this legislation.
In many states, the statute of limitations does not start until the child turns 18, or the age of majority. This extension means that many victims of child sexual assault can still pursue legal action even if several years have passed since the abuse occurred.
The sooner you act, the sooner that you can get started building a potential legal case. A child sexual assault lawyer may be able to help you preserve your opportunity for legal recourse.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Case
Should you or a loved one decide to sue your abuser, you could be entitled to compensation related to what happened. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 219-9622 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We can answer any questions that you may have about the process. Call today to get started.