More than 300,000 Americans, including children, are sexually abused every year. Victims of sexual abuse often struggle with mental and physical issues after the accident and sometimes, throughout their life.
Some of these issues include rape trauma syndrome, which consists of several symptoms. These symptoms include headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, infections, fear, embarrassment, anger, humiliation, self-blame, soreness, traumatophobia, and soreness.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you can file a sexual abuse lawsuit to recover both economic and non-economic damages arising from the offense. Such lawsuits are applicable if you are a victim of:
- Child sexual abuse
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
- Sexual assault by medical personnel
- Non-consensual sexual acts
You can sue for these damages if you are the victim or family of the victim and:
- You witnessed sexual abuse.
- The victim died as a result of the abuse.
- You lost the companionship or intimacy of a domestic partner or spouse due to the actions of the perpetrator.
Most victims of sexual abuse suffer embarrassment, shame, and the fear of not being believed. They shy away from reporting the offenses to the police. Fortunately, you can file a civil lawsuit to recover damages after sexual abuse, even if you did not report the offense.
However, if you filed a report with the police, you might have better chances of gathering evidence while it is still fresh. Failure of the prosecution to file charges or secure a conviction does not affect the outcome of a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
Calculating the Damages
Sexual abuse has great effects on different areas of the victim’s life. They can affect finances, mental, and physical health. Filing a lawsuit can offer the victim sense of justice and closure, which is important to his or her mental well-being.
Victims of sexual abuse can file a civil lawsuit to recover damages that include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological counseling
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium
In some cases, you can recover punitive damages if the perpetrator acted with fraud, malice, or oppression. These damages are awarded by the court to discourage other individuals from committing similar offenses.
Getting the rightful value of your sexual abuse case is important to your sense of justice and recovery. Most people are unaware of the potential of their case, especially where the defendant was not convicted.
However, civil cases have a lower standard of proof compared to criminal cases. The evidence allowed passes through lower standards than those set in a criminal court. Therefore, if you are filing before the statute of limitations expires, then you can get the full value of your case.
As in regular personal injury lawsuits, the value of economic damages such as lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical bills, and psychological counseling is easy to determine. These damages have an attached dollar value.
The value of economic damages derives from the sum of all the costs associated with the abuse. For instance, you can get the value of medical costs by adding up the costs of medication and treatment related to the sexual abuse offense.
Placing a dollar value on non-economic damages, however, is a complicated and often subjective issue. Calculating the value of non-economic damages requires the provision of proof and, in most cases, expert witnesses.
Expert witnesses can provide vital information that the jury might not have concerning the psychological, mental, and emotional effects of rape.
Recovering the Value of Your Case
Often, the question of how much a sexual abuse case is worth arises in the determination of the benefits of filing a civil suit against the perpetrator. Your attorney can estimate the value of your case based on previous similar cases and the circumstances of your case.
However, you still need to go through court or negotiate with the perpetrator for a fair settlement. You can increase the chances that you will recover the full worth of your case by:
- Provide evidence of physical injuries resulting from the abuse
- Present the physician who examined you as a witness
- Present an independent expert witness who would shed light on the impact of sexual abuse in the long term
- Appear in court to provide your testimony (it is better to appear as the last witness after all the experts)
A correctly valued sexual abuse lawsuit can make a great difference in your recovery after sexual abuse. Therefore, you must work with a lawyer who has worked on similar cases to ensure you get the worth of your case and closure where possible.