If you were sexually abused as a child, you can still sue if you meet certain criteria.
When Am I Still Eligible to Sue for Childhood Sexual Abuse?
For most personal injury cases, you must file your claim within four years of the incident, in accordance with Florida’s statute of limitations (i.e., time limit). However, cases involving child sexual abuse have different rules. Per Florida Statute § 95.11(7), you may file a civil claim dealing with sexual abuse at any time within:
- Seven years of your 18th birthday (before you turn 25);
- Four years after you leave the dependency of the sexual abuser (even if you are over 25); or
- Four years from the time of discovery of the injury itself and causation of the injury (i.e., realizing the abuse caused the injuries)
Florida implemented the last condition to account for the mental issues sexual abuse causes. For instance, many people who experienced sexual abuse as children repressed what happened to them. Because of this, they may not know they suffered abuse until years after it happened. The state of Florida gives victims an opportunity to come forward once they realize what happened, even if it has been decades since the abuse happened.
Who Can I Sue?
In addition to your attacker, you may be able to sue anyone who could have prevented the abuse including school employees, churches, parents, or daycares. We may file claims against those parties for negligent supervision, failure to investigate the claims of abuse, or lack of adequate security.
How Can We Prove My Claim?
What we must prove is two-fold. If you are filing later under one of the statute of limitations exceptions (e.g., just left the control of your abuser, just linked your injuries to your abuse), we must prove this first.
If you just discovered that you suffered sexual abuse as a child, we can work with mental health experts to establish how that occurs. We will work to prove that your memories just surfaced and that you did not know about the abuse before the seven-year statute of limitations ran out.
Once we have established you are eligible for a statute of limitations exception, we must prove the abuse occurred. Because it occurred many years ago, it is important that our attorneys conduct a thorough investigation to uncover any information about the abuse. We may:
- Talk to family members, neighbors, former teachers, physicians, and other potential witnesses to see if anyone was aware of the abuse.
- Review old medical records and look for any signs of abuse.
- Prepare you to take the stand and testify about your experience and injuries.
- Consult with medical experts to testify to the long-term physical and mental effects of child abuse.
- Talk to people currently in your life and prepare them to testify regarding how the abuse affects you today.
Once we go to court, our goal will be to convince the judge or jury that the sexual abuse did in fact occur. In most sexual abuse cases, there is an issue of whether you consented to the sexual activity. However, because you were a child at the time, you were legally unable to consent to sexual activity with an adult.
What Damages Can I Recover?
If the court finds that the defendant(s) was responsible for the sexual abuse you experienced as a child, you may recover damages for what you went through. These damages may cover:
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish
- Costs of psychological treatment
- Mental health counseling
- Medical expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
What If I Am Getting Close to the Statute of Limitations Expiring?
Call us immediately. If you get us involved in time, we may be able to convince the courts to toll (i.e., pause) the statute of limitations.
Child sexual abuse is a heinous act that can cause lifelong psychological, physical, and social damages to a child. The worst part is that many instances of child abuse go unnoticed, allowing sexual predators to continue to hurt innocent children time and time again.
You deserve to hold your abuser liable for the harm you suffered, and we want to make sure you get the time to do it correctly.
Let Us Be Your Path to Justice®
Adults who decide to come forward and file lawsuits against their attackers are courageous in their efforts to hold child molesters responsible for their actions. Our attorneys understand how difficult this must be for you and are willing to do whatever we can to make things go as smoothly as possible. At Edwards Pottinger LLC, we will stop at nothing to make sure your attacker pays for what he did to you.
To find out how to file a claim for compensation, call us today at 954-524-2820 for a free consultation.