Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
It is very normal for victims of sexual abuse to wait to come forward with their claims. Even if prosecutors cannot or will not press criminal charges, you can still find justice in the civil courts.
Victims can sue their abusers in civil court for damages. It is important to speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The time you have to file your claims will vary based on your age at the time the abuse occurred. Younger victims tend to have more time. If you were an adult when the abuse happened, time is truly of the essence. While economic damages might be available, many cases focus on non-economic injuries such as mental and emotional distress and suffering. One of the biggest hurdles is evidence. By the time victims come forward, much evidence is lost. We can still build a strong case based on your testimony, the testimony of others, and any evidence that might still exist.
If you were sexually abused or assaulted, call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 and schedule a case evaluation free of charge with our attorneys for victims of sexual abuse.
Can I Sue for Sexual Abuse in Bethlehem, PA
Many people associate something as terrible and heinous as sexual abuse with severe criminal charges. In many cases, they would be right. Unfortunately, not all abusers are brought to justice, at least not in the criminal justice system. If this sounds like your situation, you may still get justice for everything you have endured through the civil court system.
Civil claims may arise from any number of accidents, injuries, or assaults. In some cases, there is an overlap with the criminal justice system. In other cases, there is no overlap. Many victims choose not to come forward about the abuse for a long time, often out of fear and shame. When they do come forward, criminal prosecution might no longer be possible, but a civil lawsuit might be.
When to Speak to a Lawyer About Suing for Sexual Abuse in Bethlehem, PA
Ideally, anyone filing a lawsuit should speak to an attorney as soon as they can. However, this is often not the case in sexual abuse cases. It is very common for sexual abuse victims to remain quiet about what happened to them for many years. People who were abused as children often do not report the abuse until they are adults.
This can make suing for damages complicated, as you need to file your claims before the statute of limitations expires. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have created more generous statute of limitations for those who were victims of sexual abuse when they were young.
According to 42 Pa.C.S. § § 5533(b)(2)(i) – (i.1), if you were younger than 18 when the abuse occurred, you have 37 years from the date of your 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. Put another way, people sexually abused as minors have until age 55 to sue for injuries and damages. If you were at least 18 but no older than 24 when the abuse happened, you have until the age of 30 to file your lawsuit.
This is a relatively recent change in Pennsylvania’s laws and only applies to abuse occurring on or after January 1, 2019.
If your abuse occurred before this, you might be bound by the old laws. Under the previous limitations, victims who were minors when they were abused have 2 years from the date they turn 18 to file a lawsuit. Adult victims have 2 years from the date the abuse occurred.
Possible Damages Related to Sexual Abuse in Bethlehem, PA
Damages in sexual abuse cases can be complicated. Assessing damages might be difficult if you waited a long time to report the abuse. Finding evidence to support your claims might be even harder. Talk to our attorneys for victims of sexual abuse about the damages available in your case.
While economic or monetary damages are possible in some cases, they tend to be less common in sexual abuse claims. Economic damages might include medical bills if you were treated at the hospital after being assaulted. Unfortunately, many victims, especially children, are never seen by a doctor after being abused. For others, those medical bills might be so old that they no longer care about compensation for them. Their focus is on compensation for emotional and psychological scars.
Non-economic tend to be more prominent in sexual abuse lawsuits. Often referred to more generally as “pain and suffering,” these damages may be very complex. You can claim damages for the emotional and psychological impact the abuse had on you. Many victims report being traumatized by the abuse or suffering from conditions like PTSD.
While non-economic damages are inherently subjective, they can be very substantial and worth a great deal of compensation. The jury tends to have the final say on what these damages are worth, and we must present evidence of how your psychological, emotional, and mental distress and suffering have impacted your life.
Where to Find Evidence to Support Claims of Sexual Abuse in Bethlehem, PA
Finding evidence can be hard, especially if a long time has passed since the abuse occurred. If doctors treated you after being abused, we need those medical records, even if they are many years old. If the abuse was ever reported to the authorities, we might get copies of police reports or complaints to help your case.
Witness testimony might play a huge role in proving your claims. If you told anyone about the abuse when it happened, we can have them testify. If others were abused or witnessed the abuse firsthand, their testimony may be crucial.
Perhaps the most important evidence is your own testimony. We need your version of events and details about the abuse that only you would know. Testifying about sexual abuse can be extremely difficult. If you do not believe you can testify in court, you might want to talk to your lawyer about other possible legal options)
If You Were Abused, Call Our Attorneys for Victims of Sexual Abuse in Bethlehem, PA
If you were abused, call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 and schedule a case assessment free of charge with our lawyers for victims of sexual abuse.