Child sexual abuse is a major problem in the United States. It is more prevalent than many people expect, with one in four girls and one in 13 boys suffering from some form of sexual abuse during their childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number is likely higher, as not all cases are reported.
The lifelong damage that childhood sexual assault can cause can be catastrophic. Depending on who the perpetrator is, the victim may not feel safe in their own home. In addition to potential medical expenses, there are the costs of ongoing therapy, trauma, pain and suffering, and punitive damages related to your sexual abuse. While there are no guarantees about how much you could expect in compensation for your case, a child sexual assault lawyer can give you a better idea of what is possible.
If you or a loved one is the victim of child sexual assault, you could be entitled to compensation from the perpetrator and other responsible parties. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 today to schedule a free consultation. There is no cost associated with the initial consultation.
How Do I Know If I Should Sue My Abuser?
Deciding to sue your abuser is a big decision that must not be made lightly. For some victims, testifying in court and holding the abuser responsible for their actions can be part of the healing process. It empowers them to let other people know about what happened. For other victims, the process can be retraumatizing.
If you do decide to go forward with a lawsuit, a child sexual assault lawyer can work with you to make the process as smooth as possible. While you can choose to file a lawsuit on your own, having a lawyer take care of the discovery process, and aspects of building a case might be beneficial. With the help of a lawyer, you can be as involved as you feel comfortable while knowing that your case is moving toward justice for what happened to you.
Any time that someone hurts you, it is possible to hold them responsible and seek legal compensation. The other party should be held accountable for what they did. In the cases of clergy abuse or sexual assault by a school employee, the organizations should also be held liable.
You might be able to sue the perpetrator’s estate if they are recently deceased, but depending on the specifics of the situation, this can vary.
If the perpetrator does not have any financial assets, it may not be worth filing a sexual assault lawsuit against them. Even if the court does award you substantial compensation for your case, you will not receive the money if the perpetrator does not have any assets.
Just remember that it can be difficult to know what someone’s assets are. A house, car, or business could be sold to generate money for your compensation. Do not assume what someone has or does not have. If you have concerns about the perpetrator’s ability to pay, you can discuss this with a child sexual assault lawyer.
Who Can Bring a Lawsuit for Being Sexually Abused?
In many cases, the victim of the child sexual assault brings a lawsuit against the perpetrator for what happened to them. This can occur while they are still a minor or after they reached the age of majority. In certain cases, the case is filed many years or decades after the incident occurred.
However, it is possible for a legal guardian to file a lawsuit for sexual abuse of a minor. These individuals can represent the minor and their interests throughout the process of a legal trial. While the minor might still testify and give a deposition, the adult can facilitate much of the case on behalf of the minor.
There are some more unique situations where other adults might be able to file a sexual abuse lawsuit based on what happened with a minor that they are not related to or legally responsible for. For instance, if the sexual assault occurred at church or at school, the clergy or school employees had an obligation to protect the children under their care. When this does not occur, it is possible that the church may seek legal action against the pastor responsible or that the school will take legal action against a teacher.
In recent years, there have been many high-publicity cases of clergy abuse and teachers that have sexually abused their students. In some cases, it is not just the family of the abused that pursues legal action. After all, the perpetrator sullied the reputation of the school or church by sexually assaulting one of the children under its care. The same can be true for daycare facilities, preschools, and summer camps. There could be a vested interest in the organization taking legal action against the party responsible, especially if the incident involved more than one child.
If you have questions about whether you are able to bring forth a child sexual abuse lawsuit on behalf of another person, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to schedule a free consultation. Going through the legal system can be time consuming and overwhelming, but you do not need to do it alone. We are here to provide you with the support you need to pursue legal action and move toward recovery from the trauma. There is no cost for the initial consultation until your case results in financial recovery.
For a free legal consultation with a child sexual assault lawyer serving nationwide, call (800) 794-0444
What’s the Difference Between a Criminal Case and a Civil Lawsuit?
What’s the difference between a criminal case and a civil lawsuit?
The legal system is divided into two sections. There is criminal law, which deals with violations of law, putting the perpetrator against the government. Then there is civil law, which deals with disputes between two groups or entities. While the processes for both are relatively similar, there are distinct differences between the two.
The most distinct difference between criminal law and civil law is the actors involved. In criminal law, cases involve a person or entity against the government. The government establishes laws to govern conduct. Violations of those laws result in punitive action by the government in the form of a trial. The end result could be jail time or fines paid to the government.
Civil cases involve people against other people or entities. If the government is not named in the lawsuit, the government’s only role in civil cases is to be the mediator in the dispute. Civil cases do not end in jail time, but they could result in fines paid to the other party.
Another major difference between civil and criminal cases is the burden of proof. Criminal cases require the government to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (a legal way of saying that the defendant is very likely guilty). In some cases, mostly capital offense cases, a unanimous decision is needed.
Civil cases have a lower burden of proof. The plaintiff (the side that filed the lawsuit) must prove that the defendant (the side being sued) is guilty by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the defendant is likely guilty based on the available evidence. This makes it easier to win a civil case than it is to win a criminal case.
Civil law gives both sides the option to waive their right to a jury trial. If this happens, a judge will hear the case and make all of the decisions. This is a much faster method of handling a case. It is possible to request a jury trial, which is everyone’s constitutional right.
Many people choose to have a judge-only trial because of time constraints. It can take up to a year to go to trial since the legal system is always backed-up with cases. Short of settling out of court, this is the fastest way to speed up a trial.
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Where Can I Find the Statute of Limitations for My State?
The statute of limitations for child sexual assault and other types of abuse against children vary significantly from one state to the next. Some states require that children file lawsuits within the same short time frames that are offered to adults, while other states do not have any statute of limitations for sexual offenses against children. This can make it difficult to know what the statute of limitations is.
Some state legislative bodies have created new legislation to remove or extend the existing statute of limitations period to benefit victims and to give them more time. In some states, these bills have already been passed and put into law. In other states, these potential bills are still being negotiated by the legislative bodies.
The best way to find the statutes of limitations that would impact your potential legal case is to talk with a child sexual assault lawyer who can review your case and provide you with more information.
The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has a page of each state’s civil statutes of limitations in child sexual abuse cases, but you might still benefit from consulting a lawyer on all of the applicable timelines for your case.
Some states also temporarily waived statutes of limitations for cases that would otherwise be too old to pursue legal action, so the victims could now file a lawsuit. This made it possible for some older child sexual assault cases to finally find their day in court to seek justice.
Can You Sue Somebody Besides the Perpetrator for Sexual Abuse?
In a civil case for sexual assault, the focus is the perpetrator, most of the time. Since he or she is directly responsible, it is easy to see why the legal system would target the perpetrator for the lawsuit. However, there are situations where other people or entities can be sued for sexual abuse.
This is a common concern for businesses, as they have a responsibility to prevent sexual abuse of any kind in the workplace. A lot of effort goes into providing security and finding insurance plans that can offer coverage in case something does happen. When a sexual assault happens in the workplace, and the owner was negligent, you can also sue them. In child sexual abuse cases, this might be the child’s school.
It depends on the case whether or not someone other than the perpetrator can be sued, and it might benefit you to consult an attorney on which parties are worth suing in your sexual abuse case.
Companies are often sued when one employee assaults another employee. The theory is that the company should have done more to discourage or prevent the assault. This may not always be the case. If the company is doing what it was supposed to do, then it is not likely to be held liable.
In child sexual assault cases, the guardians of the child or the organization that created the situation may be held liable. Legal guardians of any variety have a responsibility to provide for the safety of the minor. Failing to do so in a negligent way, such as leaving the child alone in a dangerous place repeatedly, may be grounds for filing a lawsuit against the guardians.
Likewise, organizations, such as babysitters or daycare centers, can be held responsible for the actions of their staff members. These organizations require background checks and other vetting methods. Failing to do them or adhere to them when problems are found can also be grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a sexual assault, consult a lawyer to see what your legal options are. You may be able to recover compensation for your injuries from the perpetrator or another responsible party. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to speak with our team about your case.
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What are the Different Types of Damages Available for Victims of Sexual Assault?
When filing a civil case, the goal is usually to recover monetary compensation for expenses and damages related to the case. In a sexual assault case, that compensation can help with the expenses from medical treatments, counseling, and other expenses. There are several types of expenses that can be recovered in a lawsuit, and each one plays a useful role in helping victims recover.
Medical expense compensation is included in the majority of sexual assault cases. The medical expenses that develop immediately after the assault and for ongoing medical issues can be expensive. Recovering compensation can help victims cover these expenses, which they would not have if they were not attacked. Your lawyer will need to prove that the expenses are directly caused by the assault. Most of the time, your medical records will prove this.
Mental health expense compensation is another common type of compensation in sexual assault cases. It may be included in the medical expenses category, but will likely fill a large portion of that category. Recovering mentally generally requires mental health services. This is especially true for child victims.
Lost wages can be recovered if a victim misses work for an extended period of time because of the assault. This is not unusual in sexual assault cases. Victims often miss work because they are not emotionally or physically ready to return to work. This can hurt their finances significantly.
Pain and suffering is a type of compensation that is designed to give the victim peace of mind by compensating them for the impact that the assault had on them emotionally and mentally. The judge will decide if this type of compensation is warranted, but your lawyer can ask for it. To receive it, a lawyer will demonstrate the extreme impact that the events in the case had on a victim.
Victims can claim compensation for more unusual expenses as well. For example, if law enforcement recommends that a victim moves to a new area to avoid future problems, then the victim can receive compensation to cover moving expenses.
If the victim develops a disability and is unable to continue doing the same job, the victim can be compensated for the loss of wages due to the disability, several years of lost income support, and job retraining expenses. The types of compensation available depend on the specifics of each case.
Does Insurance Coverage Apply to Victims of Sexual Abuse?
Some insurance plans cover sexual abuse, and some do not. Sexual harassment is a major concern when companies choose insurance plans. As much as companies try to prevent it, sexual harassment is always a risk that the company can be sued for.
Some insurance plans already cover sexual harassment, and experts argue that they should and do cover other forms of sexual abuse. The plans that companies choose almost always have clauses that cover sexual harassment.
Many of the policies that can be used to insure against sexual assault are designed for businesses. These plans can be somewhat confusing because of their complex requirements. However, having the right coverage can make a difference for victims, especially if they are assaulted in a workplace.
Many sexual assault victims face ongoing problems because they cannot afford medical and mental health services to support their recovery. Mental healthcare has high ongoing costs, and assault victims generally struggle to afford those costs. This is especially true of child victims, since they have a high chance of suffering from issues that make it difficult to thrive at work. Insurance coverage would reduce the number of victims that do not receive adequate care to make a more successful recovery.
Unless a policy explicitly states that it covers sexual assault or being the victim of a crime, it is not safe to assume that it covers sexual assault cases. It is possible to ask the insurance company about this, but you can also consult a lawyer.
A lawyer can review a case, including the insurance plan, to see if it will offer coverage when it is needed. If not, your lawyer might advise you to take your claim to court to receive compensation for your medical bills, ongoing therapy costs, and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a sexual assault, consult a lawyer to see what legal options you have. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your case with our team.
What Are the Different Causes of Action in a Child Sexual Abuse Case?
Building a case for a civil or criminal lawsuit requires a basis to start from that motivates the case. This is the case’s cause of action. It can have multiple causes of action based on specific elements of the case. However, it is not possible to have a case if there is not a cause of action that is applicable to your situation. The cause of action is not always as straightforward as people think it should be. This is why consulting a lawyer before taking action can help.
When a lawyer reviews your case, he or she is looking for a cause or multiple causes of action that fit the case best. It is possible to build a case around a cause of action that supports the case but is not the most direct fit for it. For example, civil law does not have a cause of action that fits sexual assault perfectly. A case can be built around assault, battery, and intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress. These are all elements of a sexual assault and can be used as the basis for a case, even though there is not a direct sexual assault cause of action.
Many people confuse certain causes of action, especially assault and battery. Assault is a threat of violence, while battery is any act that causes damage. Infliction of emotional distress is any action that causes a negative emotional reaction, such as fear. The distinction of being intentional or unintentional can be important in determining the severity of the case and punishment. The judge will take this into account when making a final decision and determining the amounts they will award.
Compiling multiple causes of action to create a case is not limited to civil law, but criminal law does have a sexual assault cause of action. This is one way in which the civil case and a criminal case will differ. Regardless, it is possible to build a civil case for sexual assault victims that can successfully win a trial.
An attorney can help advise you on which causes of actions to use or compile based on your specific case. You do not need an attorney to file a lawsuit, but it can help to have someone on your side and yours alone who is routing and working towards the best outcome in your case.
Can I File a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Minor?
When it comes to child sexual assault cases, if legal action takes place shortly after the sexual assault, it is possible that they are still a minor when the case is brought through the legal system. In some cases, the child may wait until after they turn 18 before trying to seek legal restitution for what happened to them against the person responsible. However, this can sometimes be more difficult to seek compensation many years or decades after the incident. It is possible that the perpetrator may not even be alive.
In cases where the child victim is still a minor, it is possible for other adults to file a lawsuit on their behalf. Often, the person filing the lawsuit on behalf of a minor is someone that has some legal responsibility for the child. This includes parents, step parents, grandparents, foster parents, or other legal guardians.
If you have any questions about whether or not you would be eligible to bring for a child sexual assault lawsuit on behalf of someone else, it is a good idea to discuss what happened and your goals with a personal injury lawyer who can answer your questions and give you more information.
Depending on the child’s age, there may be different legal options available. For teenage children who are close to 18, they might be able to have more say in what happens to them legally.
For young children, sometimes it is necessary for the adults in their lives to take action on their behalf to protect them and to seek financial recourse for what happened to them to provide for their ongoing therapy. It can be expensive to overcome trauma, and having access to compensation to cover these expenses can be beneficial.
In the case where a parent sexually abused a child, other adults responsible for the child could potentially bring forth a child sexual assault lawsuit on their behalf. Sometimes, children are unlikely to come forward through the legal system until they are older if one of their parents abused them. In these cases, the child may wait until they are outside of their dependence on the parent to pursue legal action. In most states, this is still within the statutes of limitations for these victims to do so.
What Should I Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney to Handle My Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
When it comes to personal injury attorneys, it can appear on the surface as if they are all equal and would offer the same amount of legal support and expertise no matter which firm you choose. However, this is not the case. The decision of which personal injury attorney you choose to work with can have a big impact on the amount of support you receive and how comfortable you are to work with them.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that you choose a personal injury attorney that has experience settling and trying cases similar to yours. Ideally, your lawyer will have a thorough understanding of the legal system in your area and has a reputation for winning cases.
You also want to make sure that you are comfortable with your legal team and that you can trust them. You will spend a lot of time with your legal team over the months it takes to see your case through the process. It is imperative that you are comfortable with the law firm that you choose. You do not want to choose the wrong personal injury lawyer to find out only later that you feel you made a mistake.
The speed of communication is also an important factor to consider. When you called to schedule a consultation with the law office, did someone answer or get back to you right away, or did you have to call again in order to get in touch with them? These early indicators can demonstrate professionalism and what it would be like to work with that law firm in the future. Be sure that the level of communication and professionalism offered by any law firm that you consider matches your expectations. As a client, you should be a priority to the law firm that tries your case.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. When you schedule a consultation, you can ask any questions that you may have about the legal process, legal precedents, and what you can expect should you decide to move forward. There is nothing lost except for a little bit of time should you not choose to pursue legal action. However, since many states still have a statute of limitations in place for child sexual assault, it is better to have the information you need earlier to make an informed decision.
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No one should suffer from child sexual assault. When it occurs, the perpetrator should be held responsible. You can still work with law enforcement officials toward a criminal case, but filing a separate lawsuit in civil court could potentially help you to receive the compensation that you deserve.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to speak with a member of our legal team. We understand that it is a difficult time in your life and would like to provide you with support as you work to overcome the significant trauma of your or your child’s sexual assault. We can discuss the next steps and provide information about the statute of limitations and other state laws as they relate to your specific case.
A child sexual assault lawyer from our firm might be able to help you recover compensation for your suffering. We do not take any payments up front, and only take our fee when your case results in a monetary award.