If your innocent child has been the target of sexual abuse, it can be an utterly devastating experience. It may have been a serial sexual predator, a babysitter or other caregiver, or even a trusted family member. No matter who the perpetrator was, your child or teen has suffered a traumatic, possibly life-changing event. Criminal charges are only part of the action that may be taken in a case of sexual child abuse. The families of some victims also contact a sexual child abuse attorney specializing in civil lawsuits. Over the years, our Daytona Beach-area firm has handled dozens of cases of this nature, helping families find the financial compensation that can play a part in recovery and rebuilding. A caring, knowledgeable personal injury attorney is available to review your case and answer questions so you are informed about your options. Chanfrau & Chanfrau offers a confidential consultation at no cost to you. If your child has been harmed by sexual molestation or abuse, contact our office today.
Sexual Abuse Damages
A child who has been a victim of sexual abuse can suffer both physical and emotional damage. Most physical effects will heal before long, but feelings of fear, helplessness, guilt, and betrayal can linger for years - sometimes even a lifetime. It is important for a child abuse victim to have access to professional counseling and therapy to help him or her progress and eventually heal. Damages in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse may include compensation for medical bills, ongoing counseling, and other expenses related to the crime. Sometimes punitive damages to compensate for the child and family's pain and suffering are also awarded.
Most liability insurance policies classify sexual abuse as an "intentional act," which is excluded from claims against the perpetrator. Nevertheless, we have been able to achieve a variety of successful recoveries in this area. In fact, some of the cases that we have handled included claims that law enforcement declined to prosecute, citing inadequate evidence. Because civil remedies allow a broader scope of discovery and access, we can sometimes establish a successful claim on a minor's behalf regardless of the abuser's criminal status.
Video: Child Abuse
We have represented children in personal injury cases resulting from physical or sexual child abuse.
Places Where Abuse Can Occur
Child sexual abuse can take place anywhere, but it is more likely to occur in some places than others. Those places include:
- Schools – Child sexual abuse can take place in public and private schools alike. The institutions can be sued for the sexual abuse, whether it is perpetrated by employees, teachers, students, or third parties. They can also be sued regardless of whether the victim attended the school or the abuse took place on school grounds.
- Day Care and Foster Care – Sadly, sexual abuse is often carried out by the people we trust to protect our children, such as employees at day care and foster care.
- Youth Organizations – Youth organizations such as athletic leagues often attract predators looking to prey on innocent children. The perpetrators can include youth sports coaches, counselors, and others charged with supervising children.
- Religious Institutions – Child predators sometimes use their positions of authority in religious institutions to manipulate their victims. Clergy abuse cases can be among the most sensitive, especially if the religious institution turns its back on the victim in favor of protecting its image.
- Child Pornography – Victims of child pornography may sue for damages against anyone prosecuted for possessing or distributing images of their abuse.
Types of Child Sexual Abuse
Any type of unwanted sexual contact, activity, or attention can qualify as sexual abuse. The children subjected to these actions are often made to feel powerless over their situation. These actions can include:
- Taking or distributing sexual videos and photographs of children
- Requesting that a child take or send sexually suggestive pictures
- Exposing children to explicit or sexually charged language, images, and videos
- Making sexual requests
- Forcing a child to expose him or herself, or exposing one's self to a child
- Oral sex
Determining Liability in a Child Sexual Abuse Case
Two very different types of court proceedings can take place when a child is the victim of sexual abuse: criminal cases and civil lawsuits. Criminal cases are brought by the government against the alleged abuser and, if found guilty, the abuser can be punished by incarceration, fines, probation, mandatory counseling, and other sanctions. Civil lawsuits are brought by the victim, who may be entitled to compensation if liability can be proven.
The “standard of proof” is lower in a civil lawsuit than in a criminal prosecution. In a civil lawsuit, the victim must only establish liability, whereas in a criminal lawsuit, they must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When the lawsuit is filed against the abuser, the victim may use an intentional tort to establish that the abuse was intentional rather than a result of negligence. Regardless of who the defendant is, a detailed showing of the extent of harm suffered – this can be in the form of emotional trauma, physical injuries, or mental anguish – will need to be made. The attorneys at Chanfrau & Chanfrau are here to help demonstrate the facts that are vital to your case.
Why Choose Chanfrau & Chanfrau?
Our attorneys have been representing victims of personal injuries of all types for over 30 years. We have the resources necessary to uncover facts and evidence to determine and establish liability, and we are aggressive advocates for innocent victims. Some of our attorneys have children, and when a case involves a child injury, we are particularly determined to right the wrong. If your child has been harmed due to the grievous wrongdoing of another party, we will vigorously pursue justice for your family.
No amount of financial compensation can undue the trauma your child has experienced, but money can help pay for treatment that can get your family on the road to healing. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, so we will earn our fees by securing a settlement or, if needed, a jury verdict in a civil trial.