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Financial Recovery in Sexual Abuse, Assault Lawsuits in PA or NJ

Latest Article: Pennsylvania & New Jersey Sex Assault or Abuse Lawsuits –Financial Recovery (March 7, 2017) [Learn about the basics of financial recovery in civil lawsuits for sex assault or abuse in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Victims often don’t know about their rights to financial recovery.]

In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, survivors of sexual abuse and assault including child molestation can often seek justice through the civil court system as well as the criminal one. It’s also important to note that the two systems operate independently of one another. You don’t have to win one case in order to win the other, i.e., the success of a civil lawsuit does not depend on the outcome of the criminal case.

Related: Determining Success of a Priest & Church Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in PA & NJ

Even if a perpetrator was not arrested, not charged, or even in a perpetrator was acquitted, a sex abuse crime victim may still succeed in getting justice, by filing a civil lawsuit.  A criminal conviction is not required to bring a civil lawsuit. However, the vast majority of victims of child molestation, priest and clergy abuse, sexual assault, and sex abuse do not file civil claims.  The main reason for this is simply lack of knowledge.  Sex abuse victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey often do not know of their civil rights, including the right to obtain financial recovery for the physical, emotional, and financial damage caused by the abuse.

Claims for Financial Compensation – What Can You Recover?

Under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law, the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit has the right to make claims for all economic and non-economic damages caused by the defendant’s conduct. Ultimately, a judge or jury would award a monetary amount, assuming the plaintiff proved the elements of their case. This is how the civil justice system works. When an individual or business entity commits a wrong, the aggrieved party is compensated with a financial sum.

In a sex abuse case such as a priest sex abuse or school sex abuse case, the individual (plaintiff) can make a claim for:

  • medical treatment bills,
  • psychological treatment costs,
  • lost wages, and
  • non-economic damages (pain and suffering).

The plaintiff bears the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit. This means the plaintiff must prove what the damages are, how the abuse/assault affected their ability to live life, etc.

It’s also important to note that claims for punitive damages are also common in sex abuse, assault lawsuits in PA and NJ. Punitive damages claims may be appropriate where the defendant exhibited particularly malicious conduct.

How Much Can You Receive?

There is no formula which applies in these kinds of lawsuits. Rather, the financial award in these cases will depend entirely on the facts and circumstances of the case. Many factors are involved in the analysis, such as:

  • the nature and extent of the abuse,
  • how long the abuse occurred,
  • the relationship between the parties when the abuse occurred,
  • the quality of the evidence supporting the plaintiff’s claims,
  • the financial losses caused, and
  • how the abuse ultimately affected the plaintiff (both short term and long term).

Financial Recovery – Where Does it Come From?

In general, the defendant may be court ordered to pay a financial compensation award to the plaintiff. However, it’s important to be practical about filing civil lawsuits for sex abuse or assault. That’s because it can take time to pursue a case, and the costs may be quite high. For instance, the costs of obtaining medical records, court filing fees, investigation costs, trial preparation, etc., can easily add up to anywhere between $2,000 and $8,000. If a medical expert or other expert is needed, the costs easily increase into the $10,000 range. Therefore, it’s critical to identify parties with the means available to satisfy a judgement.

More: Filing a Civil Sex Assault-Abuse Lawsuit in PA or NJ – Time is of the Essence

Each case is unique and abusers often have funds to satisfy at least part of a  judgment or settlement.  There is simply no way to be sure unless and until a qualified civil sex abuse victims lawyer in PA or NJ investigates the case.

If the case includes other defendants, such as a school or hospital, and those defendants are held liable for the abuse, their commercial insurance policies will be a source of financial recovery.  Victims of child molestation, priest and clergy abuse, sexual assault, and sex abuse can and do recover for their suffering.

The Parties in a Sex Assault or Sex Abuse Lawsuit

In many sex abuse lawsuits, other parties are often liable for the abuse.  Any person or business acting through its employees, who failed to report or prevent the abuse after suspecting the abuse or who actively concealed the abuse, is a potential defendant.  This includes religious institutions, schools, day care centers, hospitals, etc.   Commercial insurance policies usually apply and will be a source of financial recovery for victims of child molestation, priest and clergy abuse, sexual assault, and sex abuse.  Liability is  based on case law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey which establish the standard of care and liability for any of the following actions or inactions:

  • failing to report the abuse,
  • failing to prevent the abuse,
  • failing to train employees on the policies regarding mandatory reporting of abuse,
  • failing to have a policy in place regarding mandatory reporting of abuse,
  • failing to conduct reasonable background checks on employees,
  • failing to conduct a reasonable investigation, and
  • hiding or concealing the abuse.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sex abuse, contact Brian Kent, an experienced sex abuse victims civil lawyer in NJ and PA.  Mr. Kent handles child molestation, sexual assault, sex abuse, and priest/clergy abuse cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  He works with attorneys nationwide and can also be admitted in other states to handle matters on a case by case basis.  Philadelphia 215.399.9255 | New Jersey 609.223.8900

Last updated: July 6, 2015