Sexual abuse is a despicable crime that leaves its victims with devastating emotional and often physical injuries. Unfortunately, many victims do not tell anyone about what happened to them, and as a result, they suffer in silence while all too many perpetrators go free.
However, when the victims do have the courage to come forward and tell their stories, experienced personal injury lawyers who have represented a lot of sexual abuse cases can help them get compensated for their injuries and hopefully see the perpetrators receive their well-deserved punishment.
Sexual abuse lawyers are advocates for survivors of sexual violence. They counterbalance those feelings of disempowerment that victims often suffer from and fight for them in court as they strive to hold the perpetrators of sexual violence accountable for the pain and damage they have inflicted.
How Does a Sexual Abuse Lawyer Fight Sexual Abuse in Court?
First, experienced sexual abuse lawyers listen to the victim and get their whole story. This is an important step, not only to get the facts that are needed to win the case, but also to counterbalance those feelings of disempowerment most victims will struggle with long after the incident occurred.
In fact, many childhood sexual abuse survivors tell trusted loved ones only to find that they are not believed and even face strong resistance and denial. Having a trustworthy advocate who really listens and believes them is an important part of the healing process.
Of course, listening closely and getting the full story also helps with the next step, gathering evidence. The child’s or the adult victim’s testimony will be crucially important when the case is tried in court. When it is available, additional testimony from witnesses and people in which the victims have confided, will do much to strengthen the lawyers’ case.
This is especially important in cases of childhood sexual abuse, which are hardest to prove, especially since the case might be tried long after the fact due to the long statute of limitations or, in some states, even the absence of a statute of limitations for children who were under 18 at the time of the incident. In fact, the state of Delaware has issued detailed instructions in a Child sexual abuse protocol.
For adults, the statute of limitations is usually two years, which is the same as for other personal injury cases. That’s not a lot of time to gather all the facts. But in spite of that, time is of the essence and the case should go to court as soon as reasonably possible because evidence has a way of disappearing.
In addition to testimony of victims and witnesses, there is more evidence that can often be presented in court. This includes DNA evidence, medical reports, lab reports, and reports by other health care professionals including ,mental health care professionals.
Some of these overlap with another important group: expert witnesses, who can testify on the kind of health issues the child may have suffered, what it takes to recover from or at least cope with them, common signs that someone has been abused in the first place, and so on. This will become especially crucial when it comes to negotiating damage awards.
The Two Options in Court
Since sexual abuse is a crime, the perpetrator will likely be tried in a criminal court. If convicted, they will probably receive a long prison sentence, depending on the specifics of the crime. However, since the crime and the fact that the perpetrator committed it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, there is a chance that they won’t be convicted. And even though a conviction, if it happens, will not compensate you for your losses, you’ll get the satisfaction that the criminal will be punished.
However, whether or not they were convicted in criminal court, you have the option of filing a civil suit against them in civil court, where you can recover financial compensation for your suffering and losses. And you should know that civil suits are much easier to win since the burden of proof is reduced and only a preponderance of evidence is needed to succeed with the case. Just be sure you have a sexual abuse attorney to help you.
What Damages Are Awarded?
Here are just some of the kinds of damages that can be awarded in sexual abuse claims: mental anguish, medical expenses, counseling, lost wages, pain and suffering, and much more. It is also possible to be awarded punitive damages.
Your lawyer will investigate the financial situation of the perpetrator to see what potential compensation would be available from that source, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, and more. If they were not sent to jail, there would probably also be wages.
In addition, many perpetrators are part of a group or institution, including schools, churches, and so on, that may have helped them connect with their victims and are therefore alo culpable. In fact, churches and religious institutions, and even educational institutions nowadays often have insurance to cover them in the event that one of their members or employees should commit sexual abuse. So that source of money may also be available to compensate you.
What Will it Cost You To Retain a Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
If you’re wondering what it would cost you to retain a lawyer, don’t worry. You won’t pay a dime unless and until we win your case and your damage awards are disbursed. Only at that time will we collect a percentage of those damages as our fee.
So if you or someone you love has been sexually abused, get in touch. Call or email us for a free case evaluation. We will be happy to help you.