Predators have a unique opportunity to groom and exploit victims, often for years before getting caught. Victims are often scared to come forward, and the abuse may result in emotional scars of embarrassment, confusion, anger, and depression that take many years to heal. Holding the perpetrator responsible can be an important part of this healing process.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for my Sexual Abuse Case?
Victims of sexual abuse have experienced a life-altering event. An experienced sexual abuse attorney can help you get the justice you deserve. There are several benefits to hiring a sexual abuse attorney for your sexual abuse case. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that a sexual abuse attorney can represent you in court. This means that he or she can argue your case, manage the litigation process, and advocate on your behalf. This allows you to focus on healing from your experience, while your attorney handles the workload and complexities of a sexual abuse case.
Another benefit to hiring a sexual abuse attorney is that this attorney will have a distinct and in-depth knowledge of both state and federal laws governing cases of sexual abuse and the general litigation process. Knowledge of these statutes is essential to evaluating your claim and understanding what evidence or information is needed to have a successful claim in court. A sexual abuse attorney at the Zeff Law Firm will take away the stress of learning these processes and determining how to properly evaluate your lawsuit.
What can a Sexual Abuse Lawyer do for Victims of Sexual Abuse?
In short, a sexual abuse lawyer helps victims of sexual abuse navigate through the legal system and the process of filing a lawsuit. These lawsuits ensure that the abuser is held accountable for their actions and brings justice to the victims. A sexual abuse attorney can also help support victims and their families following their horrific ordeal and hopefully bring closure to those traumatic events. A sexual abuse attorney will also be able to evaluate your claim and determine what compensation you may be entitled to cover both your physical and emotional damages.
What Legal Rights do Sexual Abuse Victims have?
Victims of sexual assault have a number of rights related to both their civil and criminal case. In terms of the criminal case, victims have a right to attend all hearings and court appearances and will also have the right to attend trial if the abuser enters a not guilty plea. Victims also typically have the right to make a statement at an abuser’s sentencing.
In a civil case, a victim has a greater opportunity to steer their case, determine what compensation is appropriate, and pursue a variety of remedies. In some cases, victims have a right to privacy, and can have their case files sealed for confidentiality purposes. Our team of sexual abuse attorneys can help you determine if this is a remedy available to you.
How Is a Civil Sexual Assault Case Different Than a Criminal Case?
A sexual abuse attorney will explain that a civil sexual assault case differs from a criminal sexual assault case in that a civil sexual assault case focuses on getting the victim compensation for the damage caused by the abuser. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, legal fees, and other damages for psychological damage or damage to the victim’s life. On the other hand, a criminal sexual assault case focuses on imposing criminal charges for the abuser’s actions and implementing an appropriate criminal sanction, such as jail time, probation, or other reparations.
A victim typically has a bit more control over the direction of a civil case because they are represented by their own attorney, whereas a criminal case is run by a state prosecutor. The main goal of a criminal case is to determine whether the abuser is guilty or innocent of a crime. However, if an individual is found guilty of a crime, it is almost certain that the victim will be able to prove that he or she experienced damages as a result of the incident for purposes of the civil lawsuit.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Sexual Assault Case?
In Pennsylvania, a victim of child sexual abuse typically has until the age of 30 to file a civil suit against the abuser. When the victim is an adult, they have two years from the date of injury to file a civil lawsuit. However, it’s important to know that even if you miss the statute of limitations for a civil suit, you may still be able to report the assault for purposes of pursuing criminal charges against the abuser. It is also important to note that many states, including Pennsylvania, have taken steps to temporarily extend the statute of limitations to allow survivors older than 30 to file civil suits.
Currently, in New Jersey, victims will have two years to file a civil in a child sex abuse case. After December 1, 2021, victims of child sexual abuse will have until they are 55 to file a lawsuit or within seven years from when the victim becomes aware of the injury caused by the abuse. An adult who has been a victim of sexual assault has two years from the date of injury to file.
Note that in some unique cases, there are exceptions to these rules. If you have questions about whether your case is still within the statute of limitations, contact our sexual abuse attorneys today to discuss your case.