Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Are you a victim of sexual abuse perpetrated by an individual associated with an institution or company? If so, you may pursue justice through the civil justice system to recover compensation.
Having an experienced sexual assault lawyer on your side can help you navigate this treacherous time.
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to holding organizations where abusive conduct occurred fully accountable under the laws of Illinois.
Contact our legal team for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. We can assist you in pursuing financial compensation, even if the incident occurred many years ago. You pay no legal fees until we obtain full and fair compensation for your pain and suffering.
Contact our experienced Chicago sexual abuse attorneys today for a free case evaluation. In addition, we provide legal representation with a top-rated sexual assault lawyer at our law office.
Sexual Abuse Lawyers Holding Perpetrators Accountable in Civil Court
Our trial attorneys represent individuals involving child sexual abuse cases perpetrated in Chicago and across the United States where there was inappropriate sexual activity, unwanted physical contact, or verbal assault of a sexual nature.
If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual molestation, we encourage you to contact our law firm as soon as feasible to ensure your legal rights are not compromised.
Complete our case intake form for a free case evaluation of your case and legal options. All information remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
Demonstrating the Extent of Damages in Civil Claims
In legal claims involving a form of sexual abuse, our attorneys use the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts both to help our clients personally cope with some of the emotional issues that they encounter and to help jurors understand the horrors that our client experienced through an unwanted sexual activity incident.
Frequently, the use of these experts translates into a more valuable case, as these experts can better articulate the impact on the individual than people are usually capable of doing themselves.
Compensatory Damages Available to Sexual Abuse Victims
A civil claim could result in many different types of compensation for the victim. All damages, however, fall under two main categories: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages serve to reimburse the victim for his or her losses, while punitive damages serve to punish the defendant.
The two types of compensatory damages are actual (specific) and general. Actual damages are out-of-pocket or economic costs, while general damages may not have a monetary value.
The general damages are often substantial in sexual abuse lawsuits.
- Medical expenses: Include all related past and future medical costs, including therapy treatment and counseling with a psychologist or psychiatrist.
- Pain and suffering: All emotional damages that the institution or individual inflicted upon you in the past and the future burden you will bear as a sexual abuse survivor. This element of damages would also cover post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Lost wages: If the experience resulted in you taking time off from work to receive counseling, recovery, or avoid the perpetrator, you could file a claim for economic damages.
Punitive Damages in Sexual Abuse Cases
Punitive damages are common in childhood sexual abuse cases as punishment against the defendant.
A judge may demand that a defendant pay punitive damages in addition to compensatory ones if the judge believes that the victim of sexual abuse has not received enough under the circumstances or if the defendant's actions were particularly egregious.
Gross negligence, intent to harm, malice, or criminal acts may result in a punitive damage award against the defendant.
Common Defendants in Chicago Sexual Abuse Cases
Most childhood sexual abuse lawsuits involve individuals and affiliated entities with the means to pay a court judgment or settlement.
Below are some common parties named (defendants) in legal claims stemming from childhood sexual abuse.
- Clergy: Thousands of civil lawsuits have been filed against Catholic church members. The church itself says that as much as 1% of its priest population are abusers, equating to hundreds of thousands of wrongdoers and millions of abused kids. In addition, the Catholic Church has paid out an estimated three billion dollars in settlements for the abusive acts of its clergy and priests that occurred in Churches and dioceses.
- Teachers: Teachers are constantly the target of child sex abuse claims. In most cases, the teachers are named individually and as an employee of the school district where they were employed when the alleged abuse occurred. In most of these circumstances, school districts have to represent them in court under a theory of respondent superior.
- Coaches: The horrors of Larry Nassar came to light at Michigan State University. However, many other coaches have abused children with sexual harassment or inappropriate sexual activity.
- Doctors: A USC physician abused hundreds of young women, prompting a large outcry, his conviction, and a thorough review of the treatment of minors by medical professionals. Doctors exercise such complete control over patients that sexual abuse involving a patient can and does happen quite often.
- Foster Parents: Many foster parents entrusted with protecting our most vulnerable members of society are a real danger all too often. In most cases, the individual perpetrators don't have sufficient assets to pursue. Consequently, cases are typically brought against the foster care agencies for failing to screen the parents or supervise the children under their care.
- Youth Groups: Many large youth groups nationwide have been scrutinized for child sexual abuse cases. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) received negative attention involving sexual abuse litigation.
- Other Care Facilities: As disturbing as it sounds, the facilities we entrust our youngest children and elderly parents to for care are not immune from abusive conduct. Reports of sexual assaults of children at daycare centers are increasingly common.
Can I File a Lawsuit if my Abuser is in Jail?
Yes, you can file a lawsuit if your abuser is in jail. In addition, victims of abuse can seek justice through the state and federal court systems.
In many sexual abuse or assault cases, prosecutors file criminal charges against the perpetrators before the victims file civil suits. Typically, a civil case is filed against the abuser while serving time for a criminal conviction.
The Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Lawsuit
The type of punishment is the main difference between civil and criminal suits for child sexual abuse.
In civil cases, defendants face mostly monetary penalties. However, in a criminal case, the defendant charged with sexual abuse might lose their liberty through imprisonment and other freedom restrictions.
Private parties file civil cases against liable parties prosecuted by an attorney hired by the sexual assault victim. The state brings criminal sexual assault cases prosecuted by a government lawyer in criminal court.
Must I Face My Abuser When Filing a Lawsuit?
You may need to face your abuser if you file a sexual abuse lawsuit, but will never be with them alone.
You will have your attorney by your side in a courtroom full of people. Finally, seeking justice for your experience can punish the defendant and enable you to heal. Our Chicago child sexual abuse lawyers can help you pursue compensation to improve your life's quality.
Unlike other physical injury cases, where court filings must name all individuals involved, our law firm could file an Illinois civil lawsuit under a John or Jane Doe alias, keeping your name private.
What to Expect During a Sexual Assault Lawsuit in Court
A lot of fear and uncertainty victims of sexual abuse feel before starting the legal process involves not knowing what to expect.
Feeling left in the dark about how long the process might take, when and if you will need to see your abuser, and how much privacy you will have could make you nervous.
Don't let fear stifle your pursuit of justice while you seek compensation. Learn what to expect during the average case.
- Filing the claim: You will need to come forward to an attorney to initiate the process and talk about your abuse experience. You'll help your attorney find available evidence, like eyewitnesses or counselors. Starting the process might be difficult, but your lawyer can walk you through the process.
- The discovery phase: Both parties undergo the discovery phase in a Chicago sexual abuse court case. Then, the defendant's attorney could ask questions and request information.
- Privacy concerns. Filing civil lawsuits does come with certain losses of privacy. If your case goes to court, it will become a matter of public record. Your psychological history can become evidence during litigation. However, anything you say to your lawyer remains confidential. Our law firm could file your claim using an alias to protect your identity in some cases.
- Potential triggers and flashbacks: Your lawsuit may bring up memories you have suppressed for many years. Answering questions, recalling what happened, etc., can trigger flashbacks and anxiety or depression. Work with a therapist to discuss whether you are psychologically and emotionally ready to pursue a claim.
Our Chicago, IL child sexual abuse lawyers have methods to protect your interests and emotional health during a civil sexual abuse claim.
Legal changes now create a safe environment where victims assert their rights and hear their stories. Filing a claim can help you obtain justice against anyone who caused you harm.
Examples of Illinois Sexual Abuse Settlements
On average, successful child sexual abuse lawsuit settlements in Illinois fetch several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of them even exceed the one-million-dollar mark.
However, how much any particular child sexual abuse case gets depends on its facts to determine how long it will take to obtain financial compensation for damages. Compensation is available for one in six women victims of attempted or completed rape and any family member who lost a loved one through self-harm from a predator's alleged inappropriate sexual interaction years earlier.
The few examples of child sex abuse settlements involved sexual misconduct and sexual harassment filed in courts.
$4.45 MILLION, CLERGY ABUSE, Chicago, IL
In spring 2017, the Chicago Archdiocese reached a $4.45 million settlement with three men alleging one priest molested them repeatedly roughly 15 years prior. In addition, two boys were sexually abused during an after-school program, and one was abused after a church-run basketball program.
The plaintiffs stated that the diocese knew about the priest's tendencies of child sexual abuse but never intervened to stop the unwanted sexual contact.
$3 MILLION, GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY
The plaintiff brought a sexual violence case against a town's local authorities for failing to report Illinois statutes requiring officials to report allegations of sexual assaults to authorities.
The plaintiffs, several small children, alleged a city employee and sexually abused them over several months. The town settled with the plaintiffs for $3 million.
$1.4 MILLION, CATHOLIC DIOCESE, Chicago, IL
In Cook County, IL, three men filed a civil suit against a Catholic Church and various dioceses that lasted four years, claiming that one priest repeatedly molested them over a few years in the early 1980s. They were under 11 years old when the child sexual abuse occurred.
The case was resolved for $1.4 million in monetary compensation.
$6.2 MILLION, CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
An adult female alleged that her foster parent sexually assaulted her over a few months.
The jury agreed with the plaintiff that the sexual abuse that occurred when she was a child had a long-term impact on her life. As a result, the jury awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages.
$4 MILLION, FOSTER CARE CHILD ABUSE
An adult male filed this sexual misconduct case against his former foster parent in 2017 for actions that allegedly took place around 2004.
The sad reality is that the foster parent sexually assaulted him over a few months. The victim, who reported post-traumatic stress disorder, received a $4 million award-$2 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.
$28 MILLION, COACH ABUSE
A jury took a few hours to return one of the largest verdicts in Illinois history of child abuse that happened when he was twelve.
The abuser was a family friend and the boy's coach, who he sexually abused serially over a few months. The child ran away from home to escape the sexual violence. The jury awarded $28 million-$7 million in compensatory damages and $21 million in punitive damages.
$1.7 MILLION, TEACHER SEXUAL ABUSE
Jurors sided with a 41-year-old male who alleged that his elementary school teacher had sexually abused him multiple times decades ago when he was in the third grade.
The victim stated that his teacher had groomed him for the sexual abuse by taking him on trips and buying him gifts. The jury awarded $1.7 million in compensatory damages.
It is important to note that these are only a few examples of child sexual abuse cases that have been settled. There are many other cases that have not been resolved or have not gone to trial.
If you were abused or suspect that your child is the victim of sexual molestation, it is crucial to take legal action. Our law firm will discuss your legal options during a free, confidential consultation to:
- help you understand the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims in Illinois
- investigate your case and gather evidence to support your claim
- file a lawsuit on your behalf and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Don't wait - contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
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