What Damages Are Available to Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse?
Are you a sexual abuse survivor victimized by abuse, harassment, threats, or other sexual misconduct? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, our personal injury attorneys can help.
Our experienced lawyers have resolved sexual abuse lawsuits, finding justice, and obtaining compensatory and punitive damages for our clients. We understand the challenges in speaking up and coming forward to hold sexual predators accountable for their deplorable actions.
Contact our lawyers today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation in a confidential setting to discuss your case and file a civil lawsuit.
A Heinous Act
Sexual abuse is a heinous crime punishable by prison sentences, restitution, sanctions, and other monetary penalties.
The American justice system and prosecutors can use the law to remove dangerous sexual predators from society. However, putting the sexual abuser behind bars only marginally helps the victim move on.
The sexually assaulted victim can initiate intentional tort, holding their abuser financially accountable for monetary damages, including physical, psychological, mental, and emotional harm.
Typically, the sexual abuse survivor can file a civil case against the sexual predator and any other individual/entity liable for sexual assault, including an employer, associate, or others who were aware or should have been aware of the abuse.
Sometimes, the alleged predator is not convicted by a jury's verdict and is never held liable in civil court. It is easier to hold the sexual predator accountable through civil lawsuits than wait for prosecutors to seek justice by prosecuting their crime.
In these cases, the victims can file civil suits alleging the same illegal, wrongful acts the perpetrator faced in the American justice system. However, during a civil lawsuit, the victim only needs to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence instead of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Sexual Assault Damages
Many sexual abuse lawsuits are filed by survivors of rape, sexual abuse, sodomy, sexual exploitation, and inappropriate touching. In the aftermath of the assault, victims have extreme difficulty focusing on their daily lives while emotionally, physically, and mentally healing.
For many, the arduous healing process may last years or decades, costing thousands of dollars for psychiatric and psychological counseling.
Even if the sexual predator is convicted for their crime, the victims are burdened with medical and mental health bills that the criminal justice system does not reimburse.
Typically, criminal prosecutors rely on the victim's testimony to prove their case and incarcerate the guilty predator, keeping them away from other potential victims in the community.
While the sense of holding the predator criminally accountable may be satisfying, it is often insufficient to allow the victim to move on.
Sexual Abuse Civil Tort Remedies
Even if the court system failed to find the sexual predator guilty of a crime, the victims have other remedies to heal mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially.
The sexual abuse survivor can file a claim for compensatory damages and hold the sexual assaulter civilly responsible for their injuries that could include:
- Hospitalization costs
- Medical expenses
- Medically recommended psychological or emotional damage treatments
- Physical disfigurement
- Physical/emotional scars
- Mental anxiety, emotional distress, pain, and suffering
- Relocation expenses
- Lost wages while healing
Sexual Abuse Non-Tangible Damages
Sexually abuse victims are often burdened with the financial strain involved in dealing with their suffering, anguish, memory, pain and diminished quality of life. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system works only to put the sexual predator behind bars and fails to compensate the victim for their harm.
Many sexual abuse survivors step forward and file civil suits against their sexual predators for compensation to recover their physical (tangible) damages. However, they can also seek compensation for non-tangible damages that are not always easy to identify.
However, the process requires reliving the horror and humiliation that occurred during the physical assault. In many cases, the victim cannot tell anyone else what happened until years after the highly restrictive state statute of limitations expired.
While the physical distress of the sexual assault may heal within days, months, or a few years, emotional and psychological trauma may never go away without professional treatment. Attempting to rid the heavy burden of emotional distress involving post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or panic attacks is often costly.
The court tends to identify non-tangible damages as highly subjective between victims and their claims. Leaving the decision of what is or is not non-tangible damage up to the jury can be challenging, requiring strict guidelines from the judge.
However, common types of non-tangible damages include:
- The memory of living with the injury
- Any disfigurement or disability beyond repair
- The loss of the plaintiff's enjoyment of life
- Damage to the victim's reputation
- Loss of consortium and companionship with family members, spouses, children, and friends
Filing a claim for compensatory damages helps ensure that the victim receives monetary compensation. However, it does little to punish the sexual predator or others at fault for allowing the abuser to harm the survivor.
In some cases, the plaintiff may seek and obtain punitive damages to punish the sexual perpetrator and others responsible for causing the sexual assault. Typically, these cases are built on egregious negligence or omission of action.
Seeking punitive damages may be warranted if the defendant's actions were wanton, willful, malicious, or oppressive. For example, the predator or others may have shown reckless indifference to the survivor or others.
Some parties, other than the sexual perpetrator, could be held legally liable for punitive damages. Additional defendants could include any institution, school, and business that failed to report allegations of sexual assault involving the predator.
The business, school, university, or other entity may have hired a registered sex offender without completing a comprehensive background check.
In nearly all cases, the civil court jury awarded the plaintiff punitive damages near the end of the trial after considering specific factors that include:
- The jury awarded the plaintiff compensatory damages to pay for physical injury, medical expenses, emotional injury, lost wages, pain, and suffering
- The defendant can pay the plaintiff the punitive damage award
- The actions of the defendant were severe, egregious, or heinous against the plaintiff
- The plaintiff is the survivor that suffered injury by the defendant
Obtaining a punitive damage award requires a higher level of evidence by the plaintiff or their attorneys. During the trial, the plaintiff proved their case showing a preponderance of the evidence, receiving a compensatory damage award paid by the defendant.
However, to receive a punitive damage award, the injured party must prove their case using clear and convincing proof showing the defendant's egregious behavior.
While the plaintiff's lawyers may have proven the case for a compensatory injury award, there may be insufficient evidence to show the jury that the predator or others' criminal activity could be clear and convincing.
Sexual Abuse Among the Elderly
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, millions of men and women are in their retirement years. In addition, the advancing ages of the Baby Boomer generation have increased the need for assisted care in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, assisted living centers, and the elder's home.
Help from others increases the opportunity for sexual assault among the elderly. The U.S. Department of Justice identifies abuse against the elderly as "a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person."
While sexual assault can occur anywhere, it is rampant in senior living centers and nursing homes. Sadly, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), many nursing home sexual assault cases go unreported.
Typical forms of abuse against the elderly include:
- Sexual assault
- Physical abuse
- Emotional trauma
- Financial abuse (exploitation)
- Emotional abuse
The legal definition of sexual assault is often defined as a perpetrator engaging in any form of sexual contact without the victim's consent. Often, nursing home patients cannot consent due to memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or other health conditions.
The typical warning signs and symptoms associated with sexual assault involve:
- Unexplained anal or vaginal bleeding
- Bloodied, stained, torn, or soiled underclothing
- Genital area or breast bruises
- Unexplainable pelvic injury
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Unexpected genital infections or venereal disease
- The survivor reported they were raped, sexually assaulted, sodomized, or inappropriately touched
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Newly developed panic attacks
- Emotional or social withdrawal from others
- Suicidal attempts and suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide)
Even though state law and Medicare regulations require mandatory reporting of every case involving elder abuse, sexual assault continues to be an unreported crime.
Senior Sexual Abuse Damages
Do you suspect that your elderly loved one was sexually assaulted at home, in a nursing home, assisted living center, or rehabilitation facility? Much like sexual assault, non-consensual sexual activity among frail older people results in psychological and physical trauma.
Over time, the devastation and trauma associated with the event can diminish senior citizens' overall well-being.
Family members can seek financial restitution for the damages their loved ones endured at the hands of others. In addition, the survivor is entitled to receive compensation for the traumatic repercussions of sexual assault. Their damages often include:
- Hospitalization costs
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and therapy expenses
- Treating sexually transmitted disease
- Non-tangible (non-economic) damages, including physical, emotional, and mental injuries leading to depression and anxiety
Proving a case of non-consensual sexual activity involving senior citizens can be challenging. First, families and attorneys representing the survivor may need to confirm the consent did not happen determined by mental health experts, including psychiatrists and psychologists.
Child Sexual Assault
Child sexual assault survivors can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator and any other person or entity that knew or should have known about the assault. Plaintiffs often include the child, parents, or an adult sexual assault survivor victimized, years or decades ago.
Many child sex abuse cases happen at a business, school, church, university, college, or youth group organization. In some cases, those in charge failed to properly screen potential employees before hiring them in a job involving children.
Child sexual assault survivors can file a monetary recovery case based on negligent supervision or negligent hiring theories to hold the sexual assault predator, an institution, or an entity civilly liable for inadequately protecting children from someone with a power of authority.
In recent years, Roman Catholic archdioceses, dioceses, parishes, and school districts have resolved thousands of child sexual assault cases involving hundreds of millions of dollars filed by the sexually abused and their families.
The most egregious cases have resulted in the highest amount of financial compensation based on extensive damages. Usually, these cases involved invasive activity, including rape, sexual intercourse, and sodomy. Some of these lawsuits have resulted in awards and settlements for more than $1 million.
Many of these sexual assault cases involve the abusive predators who had sexually abused dozens or hundreds of children and young adults. The plaintiff's attorneys have sought to resolve these damages based on the sexual assaulter's employer's company policies.
In some cases, the Roman Catholic Church and religious youth group organizations have sold off assets, including real estate, to ensure that the victims' million-dollar settlements were paid.
Many of these settlements resolved lawsuits involving rape, sodomy, oral sex, and sexual assault of very young children harmed years ago.
Statute of Limitations Laws Affecting Child Sexual Assault
Every state has a statute of limitations law restricting the time a sexual assault survivor can file a lawsuit seeking monetary recovery to resolve a wrongful act. However, in child sex cases, the typical two-year or three-year limitations may not apply to an innocent sexually abused survivor who was sexually assaulted at a young age.
Many states have enacted changes to their sexual assault laws to increase the time limits to file a claim against the party at fault. Those changes have resulted in many adults filing a sexual abuse case against their childhood sexual predators and others who knew or should have known that the sexual injuries occurred years or decades ago.
The statute of limitations laws in many states change from year to year as legislators attempt to rectify restrictive limitations of the past, banning victims who were assaulted decades ago. These changes allow sexual assault survivors interested in seeking justice to file claims for their physical and emotional injuries.
Are you ready to come forward and take legal action to hold a sexual assault predator legally accountable for their wrongful act years ago?
Our sexual assault case attorneys can file a lawsuit on your behalf and begin the process now.
You could be compensated for personal injury, past trauma, physical and emotional injuries, past and current lost wages, and future lost earnings, medical expenses, mental health care bills, and non-economic damages.
Sexual Abuse Damages FAQs
Our law firm understands that many individuals have unanswered questions on how they can be compensated through an insurance settlement for their sexual abuse if they have a legal cause of action. A personal injury attorney has answered some of those questions below.
Contact our law office today at (888) 424-5757 if you still have unanswered questions. All sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private in a confidential setting.
What are the Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?
Psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers counseling sexual assault survivors recognize the signs of child sexual assault that includes non-consensual activity with and without physical injury, including:
- Engaging in any form of sexual activity in the presence of a child, including sharing pornography
- Forcing children to masturbate or strip
- Possessing, obtaining, or reviewing images of child sexual assault
- Encouraging children to participate in sexual acts while videotaping or transmitting online
- Distributing, viewing, downloading, or capturing images of children in inappropriate sexual activity
- Failing to protect children from witnessing, participating, or viewing sexual images or activity
- Indecent sexual touching involving clothed or unclothed children
- Penetrated or near penetrated sexual activity, including sexual intercourse, sodomy, rape, or oral sex
What is Sexually Abusive Behavior?
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), sexual assault is defined as unwanted, non-consensual sexual activity. Typically, the sexual perpetrator uses force, threats, intimidation, or humiliation to take advantage of their victims who are unwilling or unable to give consent.
Sexually abusive behavior tends to occur most often with someone we know. The sexually abused survivors' immediate reactions to sexual assault include disbelief, fear, shock, humiliation, and self-guilt.
Non-consensual sexual activity is a crime that is punishable by jail time, fines, and legal, financial penalties ending in a settlement or award.
Who Can Be A Sexual Perpetrator?
According to the American Psychological Association, no typical profile exist involving sexual predators. Usually, abused or sexually offended innocent victims cross all cultural lines, ages, genders, educational status, and social-economical environments.
Nine out of every ten sexual assaulters are males. However, females also commit indecent sexual assault.
Nearly all individuals who sexually assault children knew their victims before the abuse occurred. In addition, most sexual predators had authoritative power or were trusted by the family, community, religious organization, or youth group.
Statistics show that child sexual assault involving strangers is extremely rare.
What Does Incest Mean?
Incest involves inappropriate sexual activity between individuals so closely related that they cannot marry each other. Incest is usually defined as criminal activity involving sexual intercourse, sodomy, rape, oral sex involving a grandchild, sibling, child, or parent.
Many sexual abuse cases involving incest are never reported, often because the sexually abused survivor is afraid of their abuser, often an immediate family member.
How Can Property Owners Be Held Legally Liable in Sexual Abuse Cases?
Many sexual abuse cases involve premises liability, where property owners, managers, and tenants can be held legally liable for an assault on the property. Any plaintiff (assaulted party) can build their case on 'premises liability' theories in sexual injury cases when the assault occurred at a motel, hotel, apartment complex, school, university, restaurant, or another place of business.
Premises liability always involves the property's negligence and some form of misconduct. Because of that, sexually abuse survivors, or their lawyers must substantiate their claim by proving negligence beyond a preponderance of the evidence.
Free Consultation With an Injury Attorney for your Sexual Abuse Case
Are you or a loved one a survivor of sexual assault? Have you survived sexual trafficking or been harmed by inappropriate sexual activity by those in power? Are you ready to come forward, discuss what happened, and seek a negotiated settlement for your damages?
The sexual injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help ensure you are compensated for the damages you have suffered, including funds for medical bills, physical injury, pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) for a free consultation to discuss filing a sexual abuse case against the predator and others responsible for causing harm.
Our law firm understands how challenging it is for you or a loved one to talk about the traumatic events from the recent or distant past. However, our lawyers are ready to hear your story in a confidential setting, provide legal advice, and answer any questions you have.
Each attorney in the law firm accepts sexual abuse cases through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures we are paid only after successfully resolving your abuse case at trial or through a negotiated settlement.
Let an attorney work on your behalf to obtain all economic and non-economic damage awards available in your abuse case. All information you share concerning your sexual assault case remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.