Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Child Sexual Abuse

Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Child Sexual Abuse

by Apr 15, 2021

It goes without saying that child sexual abuse is horrible crime. But not only is it a crime that will result in severe criminal punishment for the guilty party if convicted, it is also a tort. A tort is simply a legal term for “a wrongful act that results in injury to another person, their property, or reputation.”

Because child sexual abuse is a tort, it means the person who committed the act can have a personal injury lawsuit brought against them in court. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether the person who committed the assault is found guilty of the crime (although that helps a lot), they can still have civil litigation brought against them for monetary damages.

How Does That Work?

Both the child who was abused and their parents or legal guardian can bring a personal injury claim against the perpetrator. These types of lawsuits typically seek monetary compensation for the physical, emotional, and other harm caused by the assailant.

Additionally, the child’s parents or legal guardians may also be able to file a separate suit for their own emotional distress and harm stemming from the abuse to their child.

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Is There A Statute Of Limitations?

As of January 2020, childhood victims of sexual assault will have until their 40th birthday, or within 5 years of the discovery of the abuse, to file a civil lawsuit.

This means that adults over 40 years old who discover they are child sexual abuse victims have five years from the date of discovery to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser.

Is Anyone Else Liable?

If an incident of child sexual abuse happens at a school, church, daycare center, or place of business, it’s possible the perpetrator’s employer can face litigation as well.

A school district, for example, could be found liable for “negligent hiring” or “negligent supervision” because they failed to properly screen or monitor an employee who committed the offense.

A religious entity or institution can also face liability for failing to adequately protect children and underage members from sexual abuse by someone in a position of authority. That’s why, over the past few decades, Roman Catholic Dioceses and Archdioceses have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to settle allegations of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic clergy.

When Should I Speak To A Lawyer?

If you believe you or your child is or was a victim of child sexual abuse, you should speak with a a personal injury lawyer right away.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help evaluate your case and decide which steps, including pressing criminal charges, should be brought against the abuser.

For a free consultation, please contact our office today.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

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