Sexual molestation causes significant lifelong consequences that impact self-esteem, emotional development, sexual development and other psychological traits. The experience of your attorney is vitally important to your case against a sexual abuser or an institution that allowed the conditions for the sexual abuse to take place.
At Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP, our partner attorneys have more than 60 years of combined experience pursuing sexual abuse and molestation cases. We serve victims of sexual abuse throughout Northern and Southern California from offices in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Our attorneys understand the very sensitive nature of these cases and are accustomed to compassionately serving our clients while aggressively pursuing complex cases involving:
- Molestation by clergy
- Molestation by a coach
- Molestation at a school or day care
- Molestation by a scout leader
We are experienced at bringing cases against abusers, schools, athletic organizations, scout organizations, religious groups, government entities, health professionals, health care institutions and others. Our attorneys understand the long-term effects of abuse on a child and help you bring a claim.
Who Can Sue For Sexual Abuse/Molestation?
In California, most civil actions will need to adhere to a statute of limitations or time limit for filing legal action against a negligent party. Some circumstances can extend or shorten this time limit. Most personal injury claims fall under a two-year statute of limitations, but a claim against a government agency or public entity requires notice within 180 days, for example. Cases involving children often have a longer statute of limitations. In sexual molestation cases, California law aims to ensure parents have ample time to seek justice for their children’s horrible experiences.
Sexual abuse under California law depends on the circumstances and age of participants. Sexual touching, consensual or nonconsensual, may qualify as abuse under certain circumstances such as sexual contact with a minor, mentally incompetent person, health care patient or therapist.
In most cases, however, the plaintiff must establish nonconsensual sexual contact. If you have been touched in an intimate place under unwanted or unwelcome circumstances, please contact us today. For more information, please see our Sexual Abuse FAQ.
Statute for Sexual Abuse Cases
California law dictates that any person who suffers childhood sexual molestation may seek damages on or after the victim’s 26th birthday. The perpetrator will likely face criminal child abuse charges, and the victim can seek damages from any person who was in a position to stop or prevent the abuse but failed to do so. This law, which the state implemented in 2003, allowed all California victims, regardless of age, to file civil suits within one year of January 1, 2003.
California allows child molestation victims to make claims within eight years of reaching the age of majority (18), and the state allows for extending the statute of limitations for the discovery of child sexual abuse and its effects. Many victims of childhood sexual abuse often bury the memories of their traumatic experiences, only for them to resurface later in life. Trauma affects each victim differently, and California law aims to provide flexibility for victims who wish to pursue damages. The current law is essentially a ten year statute of limitations, but the law also allows prosecutors to take action within one year of a victim reporting a child sexual abuse crime to the police, even if the ten year statute has passed.
Damages in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
When a victim of childhood sexual abuse sues his or her attacker, the defendant will face criminal prosecution from the state as well as the civil action brought by the plaintiff. The state’s job is to ensure the perpetrator meets justice. The purpose of the civil claim is to compensate the victim’s losses.
Plaintiffs can sue for their medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering caused by a defendant’s actions in most personal injury cases. In sexual molestation cases, victims often experience severe trauma and long-lasting psychological damage. Plaintiffs in these cases can sue for any physical harm they experienced, but pain and suffering is likely to be the largest portion of his or her compensation. For example, in a typical personal injury case for a severe injury, the plaintiff may have only incurred $5,000 in medical expenses for injuries, but the painful nature of the injuries leads to the plaintiff seeking $20,000 in pain and suffering damages.
When an adult files a civil action for childhood sexual molestation, he or she may sue for the costs of therapy and counseling over the years, prescription medications, and the emotional anguish and psychological distress caused by the molestation. Time is a critical factor in these cases, so anyone considering a civil action against a childhood attacker should seek a reliable attorney as soon as possible to start building a case.
Proving Sexual Abuse | Proving Mental And Emotional Damages
In proving the molestation took place, factors such as showing the act was not consensual, establishing the relationship between the accused perpetrator and the victim, and establishing the credibility of the plaintiff are critical. Testimony of witnesses and physical evidence of sexual abuse or resistance will be important for proving the severity of the molestation and establishing damages.
We work with expert witnesses, including highly reputable psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors and nurses who are familiar with the examinations of sexual abuse victims and establishing the value of damages and future treatment.
All discussions about your case are confidential at Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP.
Our Oakland personal injury lawyers will carefully and thoroughly analyze your particular case and collaborate with expert witnesses as necessary. Even if there were no witnesses to the sexual abuse that you suffered, we may still be able to prove liability in several ways. If we take on your case, we will pursue damages for:
- Past and future medical treatment
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering, and emotional distress
- Punitive damages to punish the perpetrator
Significant Sexual Abuse Cases
- $6,800,000 — Four Young Boys Were Sexually Molested by a Male Teacher at Their Elementary School
- $2,750,000 — 10-Year-Old Girl Raped by 28-Year-Old Actor at a Theater Company
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
Contact Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP, today at (510) 433-1000 to speak with an L.A , San Francisco or Oakland-based sexual molestation lawyer.
Call us today at (510) 433-1000 for a free initial consultation. We pursue all cases on a contingency fee basis.