Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Victims of sexual assault experience trauma that is unspeakable. The difficult path to recovery after such an experience requires incredible physical and emotional strength. You may experience powerful emotions like anger, shame, and sadness. Other times, you may feel nothing at all. Dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault can cause undue hardship on your abilities to work, enjoy life, sustain relationships, and feel at peace in a suddenly scary world. Knowing that your abuser is locked up may not give you the satisfaction you need to move on. Fortunately, there are other legal avenues for achieving satisfaction that can make you more comfortable financially.
Pennsylvania law gives victims of sexual assault the ability to seek justice for themselves and prevent others from experiencing what they have. Liability for damages caused by sex crimes extends not only to the predator but also to any institution or government body that negligently presented the predator with the opportunity to act. Through a wide range of state statutes, victims of sexual abuse and other sex crimes in Pennsylvania are capable of pursuing compensation from those responsible for a variety of forms of misconduct. Calculation of damages often includes both quantifiable expenses such as medical bills as well as non-economic costs such as psychological trauma, loss of enjoyment, and pain and suffering.
The Law Office of Andrew Shubin is the team of advocates that you need to help you achieve your justice. Our attorneys for Pennsylvania sexual abuse cases have never backed down, regardless of the foe. We established our reputation by taking on Penn State and Jerry Sandusky, and we have not stopped since. We provide free consultations to any potential victim of sexual abuse. For your discrete consultation, call us at (814) 826-3586.
How to Determine Whether You Have a Civil Sexual Abuse Case in Pennsylvania
If you are considering whether to file a civil sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania, you should first determine whether you have a valid case. In order to have your case heard in Pennsylvania court, you will need to assert some legal theory for the case. You must also show that there was misconduct and that the misconduct caused liability for the abuser or a party whose negligence was conducive to the misconduct.
In other words, you must be able to explain what happened, why it was wrong, who was responsible, and the issues that it caused.
The legal theory or “cause of action” in a case is merely the context by which a person can bring a civil lawsuit to court. The sexual abuse is the cause of the harm, but not the cause of the lawsuit or “action.”
The cause of action for a civil case in Pennsylvania involving sexual abuse could be battery, which is the intentional tort of unwanted, offensive physical contact. Another cause of action could be infliction of emotional distress. Infliction of emotional distress could either be intentional or negligent. The best cause of action in a particular case will depend on the specific circumstances and parties. You should consult our attorneys on which cause of action you should use in your civil sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania.
Civil Lawsuits vs. Criminal Charges for Sexual Abuse in Pennsylvania
A showing of misconduct is made much easier where there the perpetrator is the defendant in a criminal case for the same instance of sexual abuse. There are a number of different statutes that criminalize different forms of sexual abuse, but any form of criminal sexual conduct is enough to satisfy the requirements in a civil suit. Further, Pennsylvania procedural rules allow civil sexual abuse plaintiffs to introduce certain evidence from the corresponding criminal case.
You can still bring a civil case for sexual abuse even if there are no criminal charges. You can even file your lawsuit if the abuser was found not guilty in their criminal case. In fact, you will likely have a better chance of winning your case than the government has to secure a guilty verdict. This is because the burden of proof – the level of what must be proved in court to win a case –is often substantially lower for civil lawsuits than it is for criminal cases. For help understanding court requirements and evidence gathering, you can speak to our attorneys for Pennsylvania sexual abuse cases today.
Sexual Abuses Cases Against Third Parties in Pennsylvania
Victims of sexual abuse often find that the assets of the abuser are not substantial enough to allow for just compensation. However, you may seek compensation from additional sources.
The perpetrator of the sexual abuse is rarely the sole party responsible for the consequences of sexual abuse. The entities that enable sexual abuse should have to face their day in court just the same as the abuser. Negligent practices can impute liability to the powers that created the dangerous situation. Entities such as Roman Catholic Archdioceses, public universities, and rideshare contractors such as Uber and Lyft have been discovered to be major perpetrators of their duty to reasonably protect against sexual abuse.
The following are examples of types of civil claims that can be brought against third parties in sexual assault cases in Pennsylvania:
Property owners have responsibilities to prevent harm to guests. One responsibility that property owners must meet in most circumstances is reasonably ensuring the safety of the premises. If the potential for sexual abuse to occur was reasonably foreseeable to the owner of the property, the owner had a duty to take action to secure against it. Failing to take those appropriate steps may have led to the sexual abuse. The property owner therefore is legally responsible for the consequences of the abuse.
Employers also have responsibilities towards their employees and patrons. When an employer should reasonably foresee that an employee or agent of the business may sexually abuse someone whose safety they bear responsibility for, they must take steps to ensure that the abuse does not occur. Failing to adhere to common business practices such as background checks for new hires may indicate liability for an employer in a civil sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania.
Title IX Claims
13% of all undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities in the United States experience rape or sexual assault, according to a report published in 2020. These staggering numbers represent an epidemic of sexual assault during a time that is advertised as the best time in a young person’s life. Title IX is a federal law that provides rights to sexual abuse and sexual harassment victims who are students at public schools and universities.
Enterprise Risk Theory of Vicarious Liability
Vicarious liability is used to apply liability to both an employer and its employee or agent evenly where the circumstances of the industry might call for such treatment. Vicarious liability may be used by the courts according to the “enterprise risk” theory. According to the enterprise risk, certain fields indicate that the employer should be responsible for the actions of the employee or agent as certain behavior that creates liability is particularly common or expected. For instance, the Oregon Supreme Court found an archdiocese liable for a parish priest’s sexual abuse of a minor because a jury could validly find the priest’s duties were necessary for the abuse and created by the priest’s employment.
Damages in Sexual Abuse Cases in Pennsylvania
If you or a loved one was the victim of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, you have the opportunity to achieve compensation for the consequences of your horrific ordeal. The compensation available is not just limited to medical expenses because that alone could never fully capture the extent of the damage that you have incurred. The law permits victims to bring their civil sexual abuse case for the purpose of recovering for non-economic injuries, such as the trauma, pain, and suffering that you have likely already and will continue to experience. A Pennsylvania court may also award you with punitive damages, which are additional penalties meant to punish those responsible for their destructive acts.
The damages that a victim may recover in a particular sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania depend on the circumstances of the sexual abuse. Typically, a victim will attempt to claim economic damages resulting from the sexual abuse, such as hospital expenses, medical procedures, medication costs, rehabilitative physical therapy, and lost wages while recovering. Economic damages may extend to costs that are expected to continue for the near and far future, such as psychological therapy and follow-up doctor’s appointments. If you are no longer able to perform the functions of your occupation or chosen field due to the ramifications of sexual abuse, a Pennsylvania court may award damages that account for your loss in earning power.
Courts also recognize that the damages you have suffered are not just limited to what can be totaled up on a spreadsheet. Many victims experience significant emotional trauma that impacts them for years to come. Chronic pain or phobias are commonly identified symptoms of sexual abuse. You may find it more difficult to enjoy activities or sustain relationships than you did prior to the sexual abuse. All of these factors will be considered in a court’s determination of damages for a sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania. Speak to one of our attorneys for Pennsylvania sexual abuse cases to hear more about damage estimates for your case.
Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Cases in Pennsylvania
The statute of limitations is a legal term that specifies how long a potential plaintiff has to bring their case in a specific jurisdiction. Cases that are filed past the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations are often discarded, so it is important to know the appropriate deadlines. Otherwise, you may miss out on your opportunity to have your day in court.
Previously, for Pennsylvania civil sexual abuse cases where the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations lasted for 12 years past the adulthood of the victim. In other words, the victim has until they turn 30 years old to file their civil suit in court. New legislation passed in November of 2019 extended the deadline from 12 to 37 years, making the new critical age 55. Note that the 2019 legislation is not retroactive, so if a case of abuse happened prior to November of 2019, it will be subject to the earlier statute of limitations. For adult major sexual offenses, the statute of limitations for civil suits lasts for two years from the date of the sexual offense.
Keep in mind that statute of limitations for criminal sexual abuse charges in Pennsylvania is different than it is for civil sexual abuse cases. Criminal charges are brought by the government at their discretion and attempt to put sex criminals behind bars. If you decide to sue for damages resulting from sexual abuse, you are bringing a civil claim.
Many Pennsylvania legislators have been pushing for reform to the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. Many children do not immediately realize that they are the victims of sexual assault or feel too ashamed to take legal action. As a result, many potential civil claims lapse and the only party who is punished is the victim.
Unfortunately, these legislative measures have stalled as of late, and it is unclear if or when they might be enacted. Our attorneys for Pennsylvania sexual abuse cases always keep current on what transpires in Harrisburg for you. If you have questions about pending legislation and how it might affect your potential sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania, we can explain the proposals and their ramifications.
Why Hire an Attorney for a Sexual Abuse Case in Pennsylvania?
Dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse can be more than enough stress for one person to handle. Attorneys can gather evidence, file your claim, and advocate and negotiate on your behalf so that you can obtain financial compensation without fully exposing yourself to the majority of the potentially damaging conflict that may arise in court. Before you decide anything, an attorney can assess your case and present your options, so that you can choose your path with all of the necessary information at your disposal.
Call Us for Representation in Your Pennsylvania Sexual Abuse Case
No one works harder for victims of sexual abuse than The Law Office of Andrew Shubin. Our respected attorneys for Pennsylvania sexual abuse cases will get you the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation about your potential sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania, call us at (814) 826-3586.