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Seeking Legal Help for Sexual Abuse: Which Type of Lawyer Should You Hire?

on  Sexual Abuse

Have you experienced sexual abuse or assault? If you have, seeking legal assistance is crucial to ensure justice is served. However, navigating the world of lawyers can be overwhelming, especially when determining the right one for your case. Do you require the expertise of a criminal defense attorney or a civil lawyer? How can you determine which lawyer is the best fit for your situation?

As a victim of sexual abuse, you will need to hire a personal injury attorney with considerable experience representing victims of sexual assault, rape, and child molestation. Your personal injury attorney will work tirelessly to help you seek justice and obtain compensation for the hurt that you’ve endured. 

When you decide to hire a personal injury lawyer in Florida, you can rest easier knowing you’re in safe hands. Your attorney will offer compassionate and strong legal guidance so that you can make well-informed choices regarding your case. They’ll negotiate with insurance companies, represent you in court, and fight for a fair settlement. With the right sexual abuse lawyer on your side, you can obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.

You might be wondering if it’s necessary to hire an attorney. Many survivors of sexual abuse find that holding their abuser accountable is a way for them to regain their power and start the healing process. By taking legal action, you can obtain the justice you deserve while preventing negligent institutions and abusers from causing harm to others.

Differences Between Civil and Criminal Sexual Abuse Cases

A sexual abuse civil case and a criminal case are two separate legal proceedings that can happen simultaneously. However, winning a civil case does not guarantee a criminal conviction, and the outcome of one case does not determine the outcome of the other. In simpler terms, you can win your civil case even if your abuser is found “not guilty” in the criminal case.

The purpose of a civil case is to seek compensation for the victim, hold the perpetrator accountable, and achieve justice for the harm suffered. It focuses on addressing the victim’s damages, such as physical injuries, emotional distress, medical expenses, and lost wages. Additionally, the burden of proof is generally lower compared to a criminal case, meaning it is easier to prove the wrongdoing.

In a criminal case, the primary objective is to obtain a conviction and hold the abuser accountable. Only the state can file a criminal claim; the victim cannot file one independently. If your abuser is found guilty, they may face penalties such as imprisonment, probation, fines, or mandated rehabilitation programs. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard to meet.

Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney for My Sexual Abuse Case?

Many victims of sexual abuse want to just put the past behind them and move forward. They don’t want to relive what happened to them and are nervous about facing public scrutiny. We understand those fears and concerns and work for you to protect your rights and privacy during this time. 

Here are a few reasons why it is advantageous to have a personal injury attorney by your side:

  • Legal Expertise: Personal injury attorneys possess in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations surrounding sexual abuse cases. Their expertise allows them to navigate the complex legal system and ensure your rights are protected.
  • Emotional Support: Dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse can be emotionally challenging. A sexual abuse attorney understands the sensitive nature of the issue and can provide guidance, reassurance, and empathy throughout the legal proceedings.
  • Case Evaluation: Your lawyer will be able to evaluate the strength of your case based on the evidence. This evaluation will help you understand the viability of your claim and make informed decisions about pursuing legal action.
  • Building a Strong Case: Personal injury attorneys have the skills and resources to build a robust case on your behalf. They will gather evidence, consult experts, and prepare a solid legal strategy. Their goal is to present a solid case to help you obtain justice. 
  • Negotiating Fair Compensation: Your personal injury attorney will ensure you receive fair compensation for the damages you have suffered. They will skillfully negotiate with the responsible party or their insurance company to secure a settlement that adequately covers medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other relevant damages.
  • Advocacy in Court: If your case goes to trial, your sexual abuse attorney will present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf. Having an experienced attorney by your side increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome in court.

Your Sexual Abuse Attorney Will Hold ALL Parties Accountable

In a civil claim related to sexual abuse, various parties may be held accountable, depending on the circumstances surrounding the abuse. It’s important to note that liability can vary depending on the specific facts of your case. Your sexual abuse attorney will investigate your case closely to identify all liable parties, including: 

  • Perpetrator/Abuser
  • Individual Accomplices
  • Employers/Organizations
  • Schools/Educational Institutions
  • Religious Institutions
  • Social Service Agencies
  • Property Owners
  • Third Parties

The primary party responsible for the sexual abuse is the individual who committed the abusive acts. They are ultimately the ones to blame, and your attorney will seek to hold them accountable above all else. Under certain circumstances, employers, educational institutions, or organizations may be held liable for sexual abuse that occurred. This can include cases where an employee, volunteer, or clergy member committed the abuse. In many cases, these institutions failed to prevent or address the abuse appropriately. Liability can arise from negligent hiring, supervision, or inadequate response to reports of abuse.

The legal process for sexual abuse cases is complex and emotionally charged. Recovering from sexual abuse or assault is not easy. Survivors often need considerable amounts of money to help them recover. These steps can help survivors seek justice and obtain the compensation they deserve. 

Reporting the Incident: The first step is for the victim to report the sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities. You can report the abuse to the police, a local child protective services agency, or a rape crisis center. In Florida, you can call the Florida Abuse Hotline. Reporting the incident immediately is crucial to preserve evidence and initiate the legal process.

Investigation: Once a report is filed, law enforcement authorities will typically investigate to gather evidence. This may involve interviewing the victim, collecting physical or forensic evidence, and speaking to potential witnesses.

Criminal Proceedings: If the evidence collected during the investigation supports the allegations, the authorities may arrest your abuser and charge them with a crime. With enough evidence, the case will proceed through the criminal court system, and your abuser may be convicted and sentenced if found guilty.

Civil Claim: In addition to criminal proceedings, victims of sexual abuse may also have the option to file a civil claim against the perpetrator. A civil claim is a separate legal process from criminal proceedings and can occur concurrently or after the criminal case concludes. Through a civil claim, survivors can collect compensation for the harm they’ve suffered. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Sexual Assault Case in Florida?

If you are a victim of sexual assault in Florida, you only have a specific amount of time to file a civil claim. However, prosecutors may have even longer to file criminal charges against your abuser. If you miss the deadline, you cannot file a lawsuit and seek compensation for the harm caused by the sexual assault.

In Florida, if you want to file a civil lawsuit for sexual assault in Florida, you have four years from the date of the assault to file your lawsuit. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the victim was a minor at the time of the assault, the four-year period may not start until the victim turns 18 years old. Additionally, if the victim did not discover the injury until a later date, the four-year period may start from the date of discovery.

Even if you believe you’ve missed the window to file a claim, it is important to speak to an attorney. You may still have time to file a civil case. There are many exceptions to the statute of limitations, especially regarding sexual abuse and assault. 

In June 2020, Florida passed Donna’s Law. This law eliminated the statute of limitations for sexual assault incidents committed against minors after July 1, 2020. 

Since sexual abuse laws are constantly changing, it is important to speak with an experienced sexual assault lawyer in Florida to determine the statute of limitations for your case. They can help you understand your legal rights and options and guide you through the legal process.

Sexual Abuse Claims Against Religious or Youth Organizations

If you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse from a religious or youth organization, it is important to understand that these institutions can be held liable. Unfortunately, organizations fight these types of claims aggressively and often try to sweep accusations under the rug to avoid public outcry and negative publicity. You need an attorney who can hold them accountable for allowing perpetrators in their organizations to continue harming children or others. 

Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts of America has a long history of sexual abuse allegations. In 2012, thousands of confidential documents known as the “Perversion Files” were released to the public. These files contained records of alleged sexual abuse within the organization spanning several decades. The Boy Scouts of America had compiled these files, showing that they’d known about the abuse allegations but often failed to report them to law enforcement or take appropriate action. As of 2020, over 92,000 sexual abuse claims were filed against the Boy Scouts of America organization. 

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has also been the subject of numerous sexual abuse allegations. The most comprehensive study on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the United States is the “John Jay Report,” released in 2004. This report was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and analyzed data from 1950 to 2002. According to this report, there were 10,667 reported victims of child sexual abuse by clergy during the studied period.

The Diocese of Miami, which encompasses the southern part of Florida, has faced allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members. Multiple survivors have come forward with claims, resulting in legal proceedings, settlements, and the removal of certain priests from their positions.

Youth Camps

Youth camps can be a fun and rewarding experience for children, but unfortunately, they can also be a breeding ground for sexual abuse. The YMCA, for example, has faced allegations of sexual abuse involving staff members, volunteers, and individuals associated with the organization. Survivors have come forward with claims of abuse occurring within YMCA facilities, programs, and camps.

Sports Organizations

Sports organizations can also be hotspots for sexual abuse. According to a comprehensive investigation by the Indianapolis Star, at least 368 gymnasts in the United States alleged sexual abuse over the span of two decades. In 2018, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) reported receiving 366 reports of sexual misconduct within gymnastics programs, leading to an investigation into USA Gymnastics and the actions of former team doctor Larry Nassar. They uncovered more than 500 survivors who reported abuse. 

A study conducted by ESPN analyzed public records and media reports and found that from 1998 to 2018, at least 290 coaches and officials were involved in sexual misconduct cases in U.S. swimming. USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, has banned more than 100 coaches and officials for life due to sexual misconduct allegations.

Why Choose Our Florida Sexual Abuse Attorney?

If you or a loved one have suffered from sexual abuse or assault, you are not alone. It takes immense strength and courage to come forward and seek justice. Florida sexual abuse attorney Prosper Shaked is here to support you every step of the way. He is dedicated to fighting for your rights and providing the compassionate representation you deserve.

At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA, your well-being and privacy are paramount. We understand the delicate nature of these cases, so you can trust that your case will be handled with the utmost care, confidentiality, and empathy.

Our attorneys have a comprehensive knowledge of the relevant laws, statutes of limitations, and the intricate processes involved in pursuing a claim. They leverage their expertise to build a strong case on your behalf, meticulously gathering evidence, consulting with expert witnesses, and working tirelessly to ensure your voice is heard.

Call our office today and schedule your free, confidential consultation. Our phone number is (305) 694-2676.