While physical injury can result from sexual abuse, more often than not, the injuries suffered by the victim are psychological in nature and can have lasting implications on the victim’s overall quality of life and ability to function “normally” in society. The ramifications for a sexual abuse victim’s personal life can be extensive.
Financial compensation can be recovered in some sexual abuse personal injury claims in order to pay therapy and other medical expenses. If lost wages and other economic damages were suffered to due sexual abuse, compensation awarded in a successful personal injury law suit can also give some recompense for these losses as well. Of course, the interest of personal justice is also a factor in personal injury sexual abuse cases, and a civil lawsuit can be a means of achieving some degree of justice for the victim, by holding the abuser legally liable for his or her actions.
Sexual abuse usually occurs as a result of a single individual’s actions, but in some cases an organization can also be held liable in personal injury claims. The abuser usually holds a position of trust or authority, like that of a friend, relative, co-worker, boss, or other authority figure. The abuser often takes advantage of a personal or professional relationship in which the trust of the victim is as much manipulated and abused as is the victim’s body and mind.
If the abuser is a member of an organization, like a company, church, school or other group, the organization can be included in a personal injury claim as well. This is especially true when procedural failures and risk mitigation practices are not followed by the organization. Such would be the case, for instance, if a school or business does not perform appropriate background checks and criminal history screenings on prospective employees and hires a known sex offender.
Sexual abuse is sometimes referred to under the law as molestation. Though molestation is most often associated with the sexual abuse of children, it can actually encompass a number of different forms of sexual assault including, but not limited to:
- Exhibitionism or flashing
- Sexual assault and rape, including spousal abuse
- Molestation of a child or of any adult incapable of providing consent for sexual encounters, like mentally disabled adults and unconscious patients, for example
- Unwanted touching, kissing or sexual advances
- Any forced or otherwise non-consensual sexual demands
Under the law, sexual abuse or misconduct is any circumstance in which one person uses physical force, the threat of harm, or a position of authority to demand another individual to submit to and engage in non-consensual sexual activity. The victim in such cases can be anyone – male, female, young, old, disabled or not, etc.
Proving Your Sexual Abuse Personal Injury Claim
In some cases of sexual abuse, physical injuries can be present. If a physical examination was performed by a medical practitioner, or other medical procedures were required to treat physical injuries resulting from the abuse, medical records must be included in your personal injury claim in order to prove your case. A case in which medical records are available has a much stronger chance of being viable and meeting the “burden of proof” for establishing the liability of the abuser under the law, but physical injuries don’t always result from sexual abuse. Mental health therapy or counseling records, statements from treating physicians and witness statements – if available – may also be necessary for proving your sexual abuse personal injury claim.
In order to hold an organization, group or other entity liable for sexual abuse suffered, you must prove the entity played a role in the abuse. In other words, you must prove negligence or failure to meet obligations for standards of care. For example, a business that employed a known sexual offender, an organization that suspected but failed to prevent sexual abuse, or a social service organization that placed an individual in a facility in which sexual abuse occurred at the hands of an individual on whom appropriate background and criminal history checks were not performed can all be entities that may be held legally liable for playing a role in sexual abuse personal injury claims.
In a sexual abuse claim you can claim damages that are both financial and non-financial in nature and you may be able to receive compensation for both. Financial damages like medical bills, therapy and counseling expenses, and lost wages can be included in the claim. Non-financial or economic damages can include pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment and other kinds of harder to quantify losses, as sexual abuse victims can suffer many setbacks in life as a result of their painful experiences.
Your Sexual Abuse Personal Injury Case
Whether you’re filing a personal injury claim for sexual abuse you experienced, or doing so on behalf of a family member, like a disabled or minor child, elderly parent or another loved one unable to file a claim for him or herself, the process can be quite stressful and proving the claim can be very challenging. Hiring a personal injury lawyer you trust and one experienced in handling sexual abuse cases can relieve some of your burden in the proceedings. With legal assistance you may be able to recover monetary damages for paying medical bills, counseling expenses and other current and future costs for necessary therapy and treatment.
Filing a sexual abuse personal injury lawsuit can also be a means of recovering some degree of control over your own life and obtaining justice by holding those responsible for your injuries liable for their actions. With the help and support of a sexual abuse personal injury attorney, your claim can be handled with sensitivity, in the most unobtrusive, least stressful, and most respectful manner possible, all while improving your chances of seeing a favorable outcome in your case.