Close Menu
Home > Blog > Childhood Sex Abuse > Legal Responsibility in Child Sex Abuse Cases

Legal Responsibility in Child Sex Abuse Cases


Sex abuse causes physical and emotional injuries. This conduct causes permanent genital injuries in over 90 percent of sex abuse cases. Other physical injuries include secondary injuries, such as eating disorders. Sex abuse usually warps a victim’s sense of body image. The emotional injuries include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The symptoms of PTSD, such as nightmares and flashbacks, make it very difficult for victims to function during their everyday lives.

These victims are entitled to substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. A Seattle child sex abuse lawyer can also obtain additional punitive damages in some cases. These damages are only available if a victim’s case clears some common procedural and substantive defenses.

Procedural Issues

Our brains block traumatic memories, especially childhood sex abuse. Therefore, these victims often don’t piece together what happened to them for many years.

Generally, the statute of limitations in a personal injury matter is two years. It’s usually two decades, at a minimum, before child sex abuse victims begin the memory and recollection process. So, by the time they understand what happened and connect those injuries with an individual’s actions, the statute of limitations has long passed.

Washington legislators recently changed the law in this area. Now, the SOL countdown doesn’t start at the time of injury, at least in child sex abuse matters. Instead, the countdown begins when the victim:

  • Turns 30, or
  • Should have discovered his/her injury and should have reasonably connected that injury with a person’s misconduct.

Other procedural issues in a sex abuse lawsuit include failure to state a claim and failure to present sufficient evidence to support a claim for relief.

A Seattle personal injury lawyer must painstakingly build a case before even thinking about going to court.

Substantive Issues

At trial, a victim must establish a sex abuse or other personal injury claim by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. So, a victim doesn’t have to “prove” what happened. A victim must only prove that it probably happened.

The evidence in an organizational sex abuse claim usually includes a combination of employment records and medical records.

Employment records prove that an individual worked at, or volunteered at, a particular organization at a particular time. This simple evidence basically proves half of a victim’s case. Alleged abusers usually don’t turn over these records voluntarily. Attorneys usually partner with private investigators to locate this information.

As mentioned, child sexual abuse usually causes physical and emotional injuries. Attorneys need both kinds of records to prove these damages in court. Additionally, victims must prove the medical treatment they received was reasonably necessary. Attorneys usually partner with independent doctors who review these records and come to these conclusions.

Solid cases such as these normally settle out of court and on victim-friendly terms. An out-of-court settlement is usually the best possible resolution in these cases. The victim has already been traumatized once. An emotional courtroom showdown is usually the last thing these victims need.

Contact a Detail-Oriented King County Lawyer

No matter how long ago the injury occurred, sex abuse victims usually have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle, contact the Emerald Law Group. We routinely handle matters in Pierce County and nearby jurisdictions.


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn