How to make a civil claim for sexual abuse

Laura Sylvester and Aideen McGarry in our Medical Negligence and Personal Injury team talks about how you can bring a civil claim seeking compensation from the abuser in a sexual abuse case.  The civil claim often runs hand in hand with the criminal claim and it is possible to bring a civil claim even if the abuser hasn’t been charged or convicted in the criminal court. 
 

They outline how the limitation period can impact on a claim and the differences between claiming from an individual or an organisation.

Finally they talk about compensation for general damages and other losses like loss of earnings and treatment costs.

Read the transcription

Laura:  Today, we will be talking about sexual abuse claims. This is naturally a sensitive topic and an area of law that has seen some traction, since the #metoo movement.

We have seen an increase in Claimant’s wishing to seek compensation for sexual abuse, because of the often far reaching impact the abuse can have on their lives.

Aideen:  Sexual abuse is any sexual act which a person is forced to perform without their consent. Children, or those who are mentally impaired can never be said to give true consent.

If you or one of your loved ones have been subjected to sexual abuse, be it a one off sexual assault or sustained sexual abuse, and whether it happened recently or a long time ago you should consider reporting the abuse to the police immediately. The police can assist with pursuing criminal allegations against the abuser

Where we can help is in relation to a civil claim, so claiming compensation from the abuser. A civil claim for financial compensation often runs hand in hand with criminal proceedings. It is possible to bring a claim for compensation, even if the abuser has not been charged or convicted in a criminal court. However if the abuser has been convicted that will be of great assistance in proving your civil claim, given the higher standard of proof in the criminal courts.

Laura: There is a primary limitation period of 3 years in which to commence formal Court proceedings in these types of cases. As you may have read about in the media, there are cases that relate to historic sexual abuse. In those cases, the 3 year time period will have long since passed. However, Courts have been particularly willing to grant an extension of time, to enable victims of sexual abuse to come forward and access the justice they deserve.

Aideen:  When you are bringing a claim for sexual abuse, you will be suing either an individual or an organisation. 

You can claim compensation from the individual who abused you directly. We will investigate whether the individual abuser has enough assets to pay you appropriate compensation.  

Another option If you were abused by someone through their association with an organisation, for example, a teacher, a priest or a scout leader would be to claim compensation against that organisation. This can often be more straightforward than suing an individual as organisations are likely to have insurance in place to meet these types of claim.

Laura:  As with other types of personal injury cases, you are entitled to recover general damages. This is a sum awarded to reflect your pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

The Judiciary provide guidance on the level of damages you can be awarded and we also look at other similar cases that have either settled or have proceeded to trial, and the Claimant has been awarded a sum for general damages.

We will also investigate other losses a Claimant may have sustained, as a result of the sexual abuse. These often include medical and therapy treatment costs and loss of earnings.

We will work with you to investigate the losses you have sustained and we will instruct appropriate experts to assist us.

Aideen: At Kingsley Napley, we recognise that sexual abuse is a horrifically traumatic experience which no amount of money can ever compensate you for.

However if you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse, we can speak with you confidentially and free of charge about the options available to you to obtain the justice and compensation you deserve. 

 

About the speakers

Laura Sylvester is a Senior Associate in the Medical Negligence and Personal Injury team.  She has a broad range of expertise, with experience including brain injury claims relating to children with cerebral palsy;  colorectal/abdominal and gynaecology claims; and late diagnosis of infection cases and fatal claims.  Laura acts for children and adults from all walks of life and she has received praise from clients about her professionalism, together with her ability to act in a sympathetic and supportive manner and she has experience of guiding clients through the legal process whilst understanding the needs of her clients.

Aideen McGarry is an Associate in the Medical Negligence and Personal Injury team. Aideen has experience working on high-value clinical negligence and personal injury claims. She has acted for clients in claims against their GP, hospital or health providers in relation to injuries suffered as a result of wrong treatment, surgical error, delay or missed diagnosis. Aideen has also represented clients injured in road traffic accidents, accidents at work and accidents on public property.
 

 

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