Victims of sexual abuse often don’t know their rights after abuse happens. This is even truer when the victim of sexual abuse was a child at the time the abuse occurred and is now attempting to navigate the legal system as an adult. Indeed, one thing that many people who have been abused sexually do not know is that in addition to pressing criminal charges, sexual abuse victims also have the right to bring forth civil charges against their abusers. At the law office of Powers & Santola, LLP, our Albany sexual abuse lawyers are here to help you understand your rights as a victim of sexual abuse and navigate the civil claims process. We encourage you to reach out to us as soon as possible to learn more and initiate the process. We offer free, confidential consultations.
Burden Of Proof In A Civil Claim
It’s important to understand the differences between a civil and a criminal sexual abuse claim. In a criminal claim, a defendant who is found guilty of sexual abuse will face criminal consequences, which might include jail time, a large fine, mandatory rehabilitation/education, and more. This conviction will show up on the defendant’s criminal record.
In a civil claim, on the other hand, the consequences of being found liable will not be criminal in nature, but civil. This means that rather than going to jail, the defendant will be held responsible for paying for a victim’s civil damages, such as suffering, trauma, and various economic and noneconomic losses.
The burden of proof is also different in a civil vs. criminal case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means that if any reasonable doubt exists in any juror’s mind, the defendant cannot be convicted. In a civil claim, on the other hand, the burden of proof is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed sexual abuse. This is a much lower burden of proof.
Damages Recoverable In A Sexual Abuse Claim
There are many different types of sexual abuse claims, including rape, workplace sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and more. The damages that a victim of sexual abuse suffers will vary from case to case. That being said, if you are a victim of sexual abuse, you may be able to hold the abuser liable for the following types of damages:
- Punitive damages;
- Economic damages, such as costs of medical care or psychological services;
- Diminished quality of life;
- Loss of earning capacity directly related to physical or emotional trauma from the abuse;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Other short- and long-term economic and noneconomic losses.
Statute Of Limitations On Sexual Abuse In New York
The law regarding how much time a victim of sexual abuse has to bring forth a lawsuit in New York recently changed. While adults who are victims of sexual abuse may be required to bring forth a legal action within three years (the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in our state), victims of child sexual abuse have until they are 55 years old. This means that if you were abused as a child years ago, you may still have time to bring forth a civil action for damages. This may provide you with a monetary damage award and the sense of justice and closure that you need to move forward with your life.
Note that in regards to the three-year statute of limitations, if your civil lawsuit arises from a criminal act and there is a prosecution of the offender, the statute of limitations for the civil claim may be different, even for adult victims.
Our Lawyers Are Here To Serve You Regarding Sexual Abuse Claims In Albany
There are few things more sensitive and delicate than talking about sexual abuse and pursuing a sexual abuse civil action. When you work with our experienced sexual abuse lawyers, we will treat you and your case with the utmost respect, and work hard to protect your rights and your privacy throughout the process. We know how challenging this is – our team wants to help you recover the compensation that you deserve today.
To schedule a free consultation with our law firm, please contact us directly by phone or send us a confidential message. We are here to serve you.