Sexual abuse can cause short- and long-term ramifications that affect the victim mentally, physically, and emotionally. It can damage a person’s health, psychological well-being, career, relationships, and future. Unfortunately, this dehumanizing, frightening crime is alarmingly common. Approximately one in five women and one in 59 men in the U.S. have been raped at some point in their lives, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Victims may be eligible to recover compensation through a personal injury suit. If you or your loved one is a victim of sex abuse, call a sex abuse victims lawyer in Pittsburgh from Berger and Green at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.
NOTE: If you were recently attacked and are too fearful to report it because of threat of harm, there is help available. Pittsburgh has an excellent witness protection program available. Upon reporting the incident, the department will take measures to protect you and your family, free of charge. Call the department at 412-323-7843 for assistance.
Who can I hold liable in a sex abuse case?
There may be more than one liable party in a sex abuse case. Obviously, the first person that you can file a lawsuit against is the perpetrator. Rape and sexual abuse is an intentional tort (wrongdoing).
As per Pennsylvania personal injury laws, you can sue someone for performing tortious acts and causing you harm. Note: This civil case will be separate and distinct from any criminal case the perpetrator may be facing.
In addition to the abuser, any other parties whose negligence contributed to the assault may be partly liable.
For example, if you were attacked at work, you may be able to hold your employer liable. Similarly, schools may be liable for sexual attacks on college campuses, and property owners can be liable for attacks on their grounds.
Other parties that have been defendants in personal injury sex abuse cases include landlords, renters, hotel owners, government entities, and hospitals.
What do I need to prove liability?
In order to prove a case against the attacker, you must be able so show that he or she actually committed the assault and that it inflicted damages.
Eyewitness testimonies, personal testimony, the attacker’s criminal record, video surveillance, medical records, mental health records, photos of bruises, and other physical injuries can all be instrumental in proving your case.
To prove another party such as a place of business or a property owner should be liable for your attack, you will need to show that it failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the assault.
For example, failing to maintain the property, negligent security, and hiring dangerous employees can all be negligence in a sex abuse case, meriting liability.
What long-term effects might sex abuse victims experience?
Sexual abuse can lead to a long list of harms, and there is no set timeline for recovery. Some victims heal rather quickly, while others experience the psychological and emotional effects well into the future.
Below are some of the effects rape and sex abuse victims may experience:
- Health issues such as chronic pain, headaches, stomach problems, and sexually transmitted diseases
- Rape trauma syndrome and traumatophobia (i.e., fear of injury)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Inability to hold a job
- Socialization issues
- Anger and rage
- Depression, anxiety, phobias
- Sexual problems
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disturbances and nightmares
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
What types of damages can I recover?
Sexual abuse victims’ damages can mount quickly and continue well into the future. Most losses associated with the attack — both current and future — should be compensable with a personal injury claim or lawsuit. A Berger and Green lawyer can evaluate your damages and calculate the estimated value of your case.
Below are the three primary types of damages you can recover:
- Economic: You can collect damages for monetary losses including medical bills, STD testing, therapy and counseling, prescriptions, and lost wages.
- Noneconomic: Your intangible, emotional damages are compensable as well. You can seek damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, phobias, and the effect of the attack on your relationships and body image.
- Punitive: Courts may also award you with compensation for “punitive damages.” Rather than compensating victims for their harms as with economic and noneconomic damages, courts award punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer for his or her actions and prevent future misconduct. Any punitive damages the court awards you will be above and in additional to any other damages you may receive.
How Long Do I Have to File a Civil Lawsuit for Sex Abuse?
- Victims who were over the age of 18 at the time of the abuse have two years to file civil cases.
- Victims who were under the age of 18 when the abuse occurred have 12 years after their 18th birthday to file civil charges.
What is my first step to pursing compensation?
The first step in taking legal action for sexual abuse is to speak with one of our attorneys at Berger and Green. It is critical to only hire an attorney that has handled cases of this nature before; they are unique and require in-depth understanding of not only violence-related personal injury cases, but also of the complexity of victims’ damages and manifestations.
Our lawyers have a genuine passion for pursing the justice the victims of sex abuse and violent crimes deserve. We have represented numerous cases for sex abuse victims and have had very successful outcomes.
After discussing the basics of your case with you during the initial consult, we can help ascertain liability, explain your legal options, and then chart a plan of action. Our goal will be to provide you with the counsel and representation you need during this difficult time, protect and advocate for your rights, and fight diligently for maximum recovery on your behalf.
And do not worry about how you are going to pay us. We will not charge any attorney fees unless and until we win your case for you. Our primary focus is helping you get your life back, not getting more dollars in our bank account.
Call us today at 412-661-1400 for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation in Pittsburgh.