Who or What Do You Sue if You were Molested as a Child?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

If you were molested or sexually abused as a minor, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the abuser.  Getting to the point where you are ready to file a claim in court and issue public accusations against the offending parties can be a long road, and it is often in your best interests to work with a lawyer who can help you with your case.  Many of these claims require creative legal thinking to target the right people with your lawsuit to not only assure that you hold the correct people accountable, but also to ensure that you hold the institutions that allowed the abuse to occur responsible for the role they played.  Institutional sexual abuse lawyer Andrew Shubin explains.

Suing Institutions and Abusers for Childhood Sexual Abuse

If you were abused as a minor, you can often sue the individual who assaulted or molested you.  In some cases, so much time might have passed that the individual is deceased, but this does not prevent you from holding them accountable.  In many cases, you can still file a claim against the estate of the abuser, allowing you to get compensation and allowing justice to be served.

However, many instances of sexual abuse of a minor involve perpetrators who were in a position of power or trust.  In many of these cases, the institution or entity that they work for could also be held responsible for their negligence in allowing the individual abuser to remain on staff or interact with children.  Moreover, if the institution knew of the abuse but did not properly investigate the issue, reprimand the abuser, or fire them from the institution, they could be considered complicit in any later instances of abuse.

Many public cases have come to light where exactly this sort of thing occurred.  Abuses by priests in the Catholic Church are one of the most public of these issues, where bishops and others in positions of authority often knew about the abuse and actively sought to cover up the abuse by relocating priests or refusing to report the abuse.  This would often mean that abusers were put into new communities where the parents and children were not warned of the risk.

Other cases have involved sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts, colleges and universities (as in the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University), schools, sports teams, and other institutions.  Cases like those filed against the U.S. Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar have also gotten public attention and stand as public examples of sexual abuse by a doctor.

Seeking Damages for Childhood Sexual Abuse and Molestation

If you were abused, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.  Childhood abuse victims sometimes receive large settlements from institutions where they were sexually abused or molested as children, potentially receiving millions of dollars in some high-profile cases.  In these claims, it is often vital to join the institution in the lawsuit to maximize the damages you can receive.

Damages from Individual Abusers

Individual abusers may be held accountable for their actions, but their ability to pay damages is often considered when awarding damages.  In cases of retired priests or teachers, there may be little that these individuals can pay in damages to help the victim recover from the trauma they suffered.  The same might be true of many other individual abusers.  However, by joining an institution, such as a church or school in the lawsuit, you can often open the opportunity for higher damages to be paid.

Damages from Institutions

Institutions are usually responsible for the harm that a victim suffered in one of two ways.  First, the institution may be vicariously liable for the harm that their employee caused, which means that you can seek 100% of the damages you faced from the institution instead of the individual abuser.  Second, the institution might be liable in their own right for allowing an abuser on their staff or for covering up knowledge of the individual’s risk.  This might make them liable for some portion of the damages, but not necessarily all of the harm you faced.

Assignment of Damages

Courts can award victims partial damages from each party involved.  In cases where you can hold the institution liable for the individual’s abuse, you can claim all damages against that institution.  If the institution was only responsible for their own actions, you can still get at least a portion of the damages from that institution even if the individual is unable to pay damages.

Punitive Damages

Additionally, even if the institution is not liable for the individual abuser’s actions, they may be liable for additional damages.  Institutions like churches, schools, camps, and youth organizations that allow sexual abusers on their staff and work to protect the abusers put additional children at risk through this type of negligent behavior.  Courts are often willing to award punitive damages for these actions, forcing these institutions and entities to pay victims additional damages to punish the institution for its negligence or willful ignorance.  Even if the institution was only partly responsible for the abuse, you might be entitled to substantial compensation because of punitive damages.

Value of Compensation for Sexual Abuse Victims

What your case is actually worth depends on many factors.  First of all, any medical care or mental health treatment you sought because of the abuse should be covered, as should any other expenses the trauma caused.  This could ultimately include additional damages such as lost wages if depression and PTSD keep you from supporting yourself.  Other damages for pain and suffering can also be awarded.  Talk to a lawyer about what your case might be worth.

Call Our Lawyers for Child Victims of Sexual Abuse

If you or a loved one was sexually abused or molested by a priest, a teacher, a counselor, or someone else in a position of trust, call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin today.  Our experienced sexual abuse victim lawyer has helped victims of high-profile sexual abuse cases seek compensation for the harm they faced.  To schedule a free legal consultation in a safe, confidential environment, call our law offices today at (814) 826-3586.


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