Sexual Abuse Law

Sexual Abuse Claims

Sadly, sexual abuse is more common than many people realize. Statistics suggest that as many as one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood. Unfortunately, many such claims go unreported, and the perpetrator is not held accountable.

Victims of sexual abuse may be reluctant to come forward, as they are afraid of not being believed, as well as the stigma associated with such offenses. In addition, sexual abuse cases often involve people who hold positions of trust, like a teacher, family member, coach or health care provider.

In cases involving abuse to a minor, a claim may be maintained by a court-appointed guardian ad litem, who pursues the claim on the minor’s behalf. While a parent may serve as guardian ad litem, this is sometimes problematic, especially where the parent may be a fact witness. For more information, see Injuries to Children. To protect victims’ rights, courts often allow a victim (child or adult) to bring a claim anonymously where the plaintiff is identified only by his or her initials.

Monetary damages in a sexual abuse claim can be challenging to evaluate, as the injury and its impact cannot be easily identified or measured in the same way that a physical injury can be. However, the damage arising from such abuse is often far-reaching and life-altering. In addition to the immediate harm, victims of sexual abuse often suffer psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Victims of sexual abuse can suffer from other consequences, such as an inability to hold down steady employment, difficulty maintaining long-term relationships, and self-harming behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse.

Sometimes, a victim may have been so traumatized that they have repressed memories of the abuse. In such cases, it is sometimes necessary to retain an appropriate expert to provide therapy and/or otherwise evaluate how the victim has been impacted by the experience.

Sexual abuse claims can involve various legal claims, including assault and battery, negligence, negligent supervision, and infliction of emotional distress. Depending on the circumstances, a sexual abuse claim may also involve claims against the perpetrator’s employer or institution. Legal theories for imposing liability on an employer or institution include: (1) “respondeat superior” liability (holding the employer/institution “vicariously liable” for the acts of its employee or agent); and (2) negligence (such as when an employer/institution fails to respond to a foreseeable risk of harm).

The law provides strict deadlines for bringing claims. If a government agent or entity is involved, there may be additional notice requirements. If you wait too long to take legal action, the right to seek compensation may be lost.

If you are seeking a lawyer to represent you in a sexual abuse case, contact Kline Law Offices today and request a confidential, free case evaluation.