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The issue of financial compensation in civil sexual abuse and assault cases such as school sexual assault cases or priest abuse cases is widely misunderstood.

When victims of sex abuse or assault seek legal advice, they are often surprised to learn that the conclusion of a case will probably be financial compensation. Below are key questions and answers about financial compensation in civil sex abuse-assault cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Related: Sex Abuse Education in New Jersey Schools – Erin’s Law

What is the role of financial compensation?

Under the principles of the civil justice system, wrongdoers or those that intentionally or negligently harm others may be held liable and ultimately court ordered to pay financial compensation to injured parties. Financial compensation awards can be enforced by the court through various means and methods. Courts are simply unable to enforce other things. For instance, if the parties in a sex abuse case agree that the perpetrator will undergo lifelong counseling, the court would be unable to enforce the agreement. Courts don’t have that kind of power. This is the reason civil cases like sex abuse cases end with financial compensation.

Related: Damage Claims in Civil Sex Abuse Cases

How is financial compensation decided?

Financial compensation is designed to provide fair and just compensation for the harm caused by the wrongdoer. Financial compensation in a sex abuse case depends on a whole host of factors, including:

  • medical treatment,
  • the presence of any physical injury,
  • the nature and extent of emotional/mental trauma,
  • psychological treatment,
  • time lost from work, and
  • whether the victim suffered any long term effects, and if so the nature and extent of those effects.

Presenting sufficient evidence in a sex abuse or assault case in Pennsylvania or New Jersey requires an understanding of how the abuse/assault affected the individual.

How long does the process take?

Civil sex abuse and assault cases can take anywhere from 1-3 years from the time they are filed with the courts. No two cases are alike, and the legal and factual issues will vary. Some cases are more complex than others due to the number of parties. In addition, investigation may be time consuming in cases where the abuse occurred over long periods of time or many years ago.

The 1-3 year time frame excludes any time for appeals. Under the appellate procedures of courts in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, cases can take years.

Click here for part 2 of this article which discusses who decides a financial compensation award and how financial compensation awards are paid.

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DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

 Posted by on September 1, 2014 Sexual Abuse