When deciding whether to proceed with a civil sex abuse-assault lawsuit, the victim must consider the chances of success. Whether a civil sex abuse lawsuit will be successful depends on many issues, such as whether the statute of limitations will bar the claim. Learn more about statute of limitations in sex abuse lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Also, proving the facts of the case is also very important. In civil sex abuse lawsuits, the victim bears the burden of proof. This means proving that the abuse occurred and that the abuse resulted in damages.
Proof of Abuse – Evidence of the Abuse
There are two kinds of evidence, testimonial and physical or documentary evidence. Testimonial evidence is what it sounds like, testimony of an eyewitness or the victim (plaintiff) in the case. Physical or documentary evidence is everything else and often includes:
- drawings/diagrams, and
- other written evidence.
In a civil sex abuse-assault lawsuit, not only is the testimonial evidence important, the physical evidence is also important. Physical evidence may include pictures, medical records, and/or school records. The perpetrator in a school or priest sex abuse case may have taken pornographic pictures of the victim. Those pictures may be entered into evidence to show the age of the plaintiff when the abuse occurred.
In addition, medical records or school records may support the victim’s version of events. For instance, after the abuse occurred, the victim may have experienced sudden bouts of severe depression and been treated by a medical professional. Those medical professional’s records would be obtained and made part of the case. Alternatively, the victim’s performance in school may have been affected drastically; a previously straight A student may, after the abuse, suddenly start failing classes. The school records, including report cards, would also be obtained and entered into evidence. These are just some of the kinds of physical or documentary evidence in civil sex abuse cases.
Credibility or believability is probably one of the most critical factors in a civil sex abuse lawsuit. Juries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will focus on the credibility of the victim. Credibility is especially important in cases with little corroborating evidence. This is because like with criminal sex abuse cases, civil cases often boil down to a “he-said-she-said” situation. If there is no corroborating physical evidence, such as witness testimony, the jury is very likely to rely on whether the victim is believable or not.
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