Should Victims of Sexual Abuse Settle or Go to Court?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Victims of sexual abuse often feel haunted by the experience for years, sometimes for the rest of their lives. A civil lawsuit can bring you the closure you need to move on, but what happens if you are offered a settlement?

Settlements are very common in various civil lawsuits, and sexual abuse cases are no exception. Whether you accept a settlement or go to court is up to you. Before deciding, talk to a lawyer if you have not done so already. Our team can help you weigh the pros and cons of accepting a settlement versus going to court. Some things to consider might include the value of the settlement, the extent of your damages, and whether you feel justice has been served. For some, a settlement is a great way to get compensation without reliving the abuse in court on the witness stand. For others, accepting a settlement might feel like letting the defendant off easy. If you have any doubts about what to do, speak to our legal team.

Get a private case evaluation for free by calling our sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.

Suing for Sexual Abuse

Sexual crimes are incredibly serious and often result in very harsh criminal charges. While many cases work their way through the criminal justice system, not all abusers are criminally charged. Some slip through the cracks or evade penalties due to insufficient evidence. Many people do not realize that you can sue the person who hurt you in civil court. While a civil court judge cannot sentence the abuser to prison time, they may make them pay costly damages.

When filing a civil lawsuit, many plaintiffs have the opportunity to accept a settlement. Settlements are very common, and many civil cases end in a settlement. Many legal professionals believe that if it were not for settlements, the courts would be so backed up with cases that it would take years for a case to wind its way through the system.

If you have the opportunity to settle, speak to an attorney. A settlement is about more than accepting money and dropping the case. There may be legal ramifications to your decision. Our sexual abuse lawyers can review your case and the terms of the proposed settlement to make sure you are getting a good deal.

We can also help you decide if declining a settlement and going to court is the best move. This might be a better option if the settlement is insultingly low or does not provide you with the justice and closure you seek.

Deciding Whether to Reach a Settlement Agreement in a Civil Case for Sexual Abuse

Settlements might be very common in civil cases, but that does not mean they are right for every plaintiff. If you are not sure about accepting a settlement or going to court for a sexual abuse case, talk to our team, and we can help you weigh your options.

Pros of Settling

There are some pretty big reasons why many plaintiffs prefer to accept settlements in all kinds of cases, including sexual abuse cases.

First, accepting a settlement usually means the case ends much faster. Trials can be long and drawn out, especially when the parties are contentious, and many of the case’s material facts are disputed. It is not unusual for hotly contested cases to spend months in court. If you accept a settlement, you can avoid a trial altogether, get your compensation, and get back to your life.

Second, a settlement is guaranteed compensation. In a trial, the factfinder (i.e., the judge or jury) might not rule in your favor. You could walk away with nothing. If you accept a settlement, compensation is guaranteed. How much compensation you get is usually up for negotiation between the parties, but some level of compensation is almost always present.

Third, there is no need to relive the abuse on the witness stand or face the abuser in court. Perhaps one of the biggest sources of anxiety for plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases is facing the abuser in court. Sexual abuse is often traumatic, and victims never want to see the defendant again. On top of that, your testimony in a sexual abuse case is usually very important. This means you may have to testify about the abuse in court in front of the defendant. This can be very intimidating, and accepting a settlement allows you to avoid it all.

Cons of Settling

While accepting a settlement can be great for some, it is not the best choice for others. Many plaintiffs are not out primarily for financial compensation, although it is an important factor in the case. Instead, some plaintiffs’ main concern is getting justice, vindication, and closure.

When accepting a settlement, be careful about the terms and conditions. More than money is on the line. In cases regarding more sensitive matters like sexual abuse, defendants might offer a settlement only if the plaintiffs agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that prohibits them from speaking about the case. This means that even if the plaintiff gets a good settlement, nobody will ever know what the defendant did to them. It can feel like a hollow victory.

While some plaintiffs want to avoid a trial, others want to have their day in court. Facing the defendant might be scary, but some plaintiffs want their story to be told. If you accept a settlement offer, you might never get to tell your story. By testifying in court, your story is preserved on the record.

If the defendant has the money to afford a settlement, you might feel as though they are walking away with no real consequences. Wealthy defendants might consider a settlement to be the price tag for their bad behavior. If you truly want the defendant to face the consequences, a settlement might not be the right choice.

Contact Our Sexual Abuse Lawyers for Support Now

Get a private case evaluation for free by calling our sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.


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