Can You Sue For Childhood Trauma?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Childhood is a word that invokes images of joy, wonder, and innocence. Childhood is supposed to be a time of security, of being loved, and of experiencing numerous things for the first time. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is many children do not have an idyllic life. When childhood experiences are traumatic, their impact could last a lifetime. Childhood trauma takes many forms, including domestic violence, bullying, witnessing a horrifying event, and sexual or physical abuse.

If you are an adult and your life has been adversely impacted by childhood trauma, perhaps you suffer from depression, anxiety, or another emotional or mental disorder, you might be wondering if someone could be held legally responsible for your situation. Unfortunately, if you witnessed a horrific car accident as a child, you probably do not have the basis for a civil claim. However, if your trauma stems from sexual abuse or assault, there might be an opportunity to sue your abuser or the organization that allowed the abuse to occur.

The Law Office of Andrew Shubin provides compassionate and professional legal representation to survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their families. The act of acknowledging and disclosing sexual abuse is difficult. Our goal is to provide the assistance survivors need to fight for the compensation they deserve. For a free and confidential appointment, call (814) 826-3586.

What To Do When The Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse Surfaces

Depending on the individual, the realization of the harm resulting from childhood sexual abuse could be a constant vibration in the background or it could be a sudden awareness that strikes at one moment. Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse require years or decades even to begin to acknowledge the horror they endured. The trauma often manifests itself as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. For many, it takes years of intensive psychological therapy to cope with the effects of childhood sexual abuse.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse are entitled to seek justice and vindication through a civil lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the abuse, the lawsuit could be filed against the perpetrator and those who turned a blind eye or permitted the abuse to occur. If an organization or institution allowed a predator unsupervised and unrestricted access to you, it should be held accountable. Churches, youth groups, school districts, daycares, youth groups, athletic organizations, and other third parties could be held liable for their failures and held legally responsible for the damages suffered by adult survivors of abuse.

A lawsuit will not undo the harm you experienced. However, it could provide the financial means required to pay for medical expenses, counseling, psychological therapy, and income you lost because of the adverse effects of the abuse.

When is it Too Late to Sue for Childhood Sexual Abuse?

The majority of personal injury claims are filed within a relatively short time after the injury occurs. Every state has a statute of limitations that sets forth deadlines for when a civil suit must be filed. If someone is hurt in a slip and fall accident and waits too long to file a lawsuit, a court will likely dismiss their case. However, the trauma associated with childhood sexual abuse is not the same as a whiplash injury. In most cases, the effects are rarely immediately evident and it takes decades for many victims to disclose or even understand the abuse.

In the perfect scenario, child sex abuse would be recognized immediately, evidence gathered, and the predator held criminal and civilly accountable. However, civil litigation arising from childhood abuse is challenging, difficult, and complicated. As stated above, every state imposes time limits to restrict frivolous lawsuits and to protect defendants from having to litigate something that happened years after memories have faded and evidence is no longer available. However, in recent years, some states have responded to a surge in public opinion and policy to increase the window of time survivors of child sex abuse have to file a civil claim.

For example, Colorado’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse was only six years from the time the child turned eighteen. However, given the recent circumstances and a 2019 report of rampant child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Colorado, the legislature recently passed a law that will abolish the statute of limitations for anyone sexually abused after January 1, 2022. Unfortunately, victims of abuse before the newly enacted law are bound by the old statute. Unlike some other states, Colorado’s new law does not offer a look-back window for previous survivors who were barred from filing a claim.

It is important to speak with an experienced child sexual abuse attorney to understand the statute of limitations in your jurisdiction. While many states have taken action to increase the time frame to file a claim or offer look-back windows for older survivors, the changes widely differ. For example, Vermont has eliminated the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases retroactively. This means that anyone who was once prohibited from filing a claim is not free to do so. At the end of 2020, thirty states had pending legislation to expand the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse.

If You Are a Survivor of a Childhood Trauma, Contact Our Experienced Child Sexual Abuse Attorney

The repercussions of childhood sexual abuse are real and often devastating. The emotional and mental anguish could adversely impact an individual for a lifetime, affecting their ability to trust, form intimate relationships, and provide for their own needs. The Law Office of Andrew Shubin is committed to providing professional and sympathetic legal representation to survivors of abuse. To confidentially discuss your case, contact our office at (814) 826-3586.


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