What is a Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
Public prosecutors charge perpetrators of sexual crimes, such as abuse and assault. Sexual abuse lawyers work with victims to file civil lawsuits to recover damages. The criminal trial does not usually provide compensation for the victim.
Sexual abuse lawyers have experience working with victims. They understand the laws and how to prove negligence in these cases. They can help victims feel empowered to take action and recover damages to pay for medical expenses and the non-economic costs of having been abused or assaulted.
When Do I Need a Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
While it is the prosecutor’s job to handle criminal charges, you may want to hire a lawyer for your personal interests. Even if you never decide to sue anyone, talk to a lawyer if you have been abused or assaulted, or if your child has been abused.
A lawyer with experience in sexual abuse cases can provide information, clarify applicable laws, help you understand the criminal case, and advise you on taking further legal action. If you want to sue those negligent in the abuse, they can take all the steps for you, advocate on your behalf, and negotiate a settlement or help you recover damages in court.
A criminal conviction may not be enough to help you feel justice is served or that you can move on with your life. Sexual abuse and assault cause significant harm, and you deserve compensation. Damages will help you cover medical expenses, mental health care, moving expenses, lost wages, and your emotional pain and suffering. You will need a lawyer to seek these damages.
How to Choose a Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Choosing a lawyer is always a big decision, but it takes on even more importance in sexual abuse cases with such a sensitive situation. You should not settle for any law firm or lawyer until they make you feel safe and comfortable, that you can trust them with your story and that they will have your best interests in mind. Start with these sources to find the right lawyer:
- Friends and family who can refer someone they trust
- Referrals from other survivors of sexual abuse
- A support group for victims
- Local rape crisis centers or hospitals
If you cannot get a referral from any of these sources, look for a local personal injury attorney specializing in sexual abuse cases. They should have experience working with victims and helping them recover damages in both settlements and trials.
Questions to Ask a Sexual Abuse Lawyer
A good lawyer will be open and willing to answer any questions you have. They should be available and easy to access. Come up with a list of questions as you begin to work with attorneys, which should include:
- Have you handled cases like mine?
- Can you show me wins for similar victims?
- Have you litigated for sexual abuse victims or only negotiated settlements?
- Do I have a case for a civil lawsuit?
- Who should I sue?
- What is my chance of winning, and if I do, what damages can I recover?
- Would you try to settle my case or go to trial?
- What do I need to do in the lawsuit?
- Do I have to face the perpetrator or be in court?
- How much do you charge, and do you have a contingency plan?
Information to Provide Your Lawyer
Working with a lawyer means you have an attorney-client privilege. Anything you tell them or that they find out during an investigation is confidential. You get to choose what information is used in the lawsuit. To help your lawyer do the best job, provide them with all the necessary information to make your case. Trust them to make the right choices about what to use in a settlement or trial.
For your first meeting, your lawyer will need:
- All the information about the incident that you can recall
- Information from any witnesses, as well as contact information
- Information about the perpetrator and any other person or group involved
- Your medical care and records resulting from the assault or abuse
- Any mental health care you have received
- All medical bills, including mental health care, related to the incident
- Information about a criminal case, if there is one
Your lawyer will ask a lot of questions. Be as honest and open as you can. They understand that this is difficult to talk about, but they need the information to help you. Bring a trusted friend or family member along for support.
The right lawyer can be one of your best allies after a traumatic sexual assault or ongoing abuse. If your child is the victim, a lawyer with experience helping families will put your mind at ease. You do not have to start a lawsuit, but you should consult with a lawyer to understand your options and make an informed decision.