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Personal Injury Lawyer in California: Understanding Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a crime in California as it is anywhere in the United States. The criminal justice system serves to punish the criminal. Sometimes, that means incarceration, and sometimes the criminal could be ordered to pay restitution, but that does not amount to much.

Fortunately, the victim does not have to rely on restitution. When the circumstances allow it, a survivor of sexual assault can file a civil lawsuit and be compensated monetarily for the harm they suffered. Dordick Law Corporation holds perpetrators of sexual assault, sexual abuse, child sexual assault, and child pornography accountable for their misconduct.

At Dordick Law Corporation, our personal injury lawyers in San Diego and surrounding areas handle these types of very sensitive cases. In April of 2023, one of our clients was awarded a verdict of $2.28 billion.

Our firm sues individual perpetrators as well as organizations such as churches, daycares, schools, high schools, etc. Sexual assault or sexual misconduct should never happen anywhere but especially not at a church or a school, because churches and schools should do a better job protecting kids. Anyone who has been directly or indirectly impacted by sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual misconduct at a church or school requires assistance. 

Contact us today at (310) 551-0949 to schedule a free consultation. We will discuss your case and advise on any possible legal action.

Understanding Sexual Abuse in California as a Personal Injury

Sexual abuse or sexual assault involves non-consensual or forced sexual advances – the exact definition depends on state law. If you or your loved ones fear they've been victims of sexual abuse in  Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Riverside, San Diego and surrounding areas call us today at (310) 551-0949 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We will answer your questions and advise you on your best legal options.

Most people when they think of sexual abuse think of it as a crime rather than a civil matter. Many times, though, a victim can sue the abuser and even responsible third parties for the crime and obtain a settlement or award for the damages they suffered. When a school is a third-party, anyone impacted must go through a claim process with the school because it's the government.  

For a personal injury claim based on sexual abuse to be successful, it must establish the following:

  1. Duty of care. This may seem odd, but each person owes a duty of care to another person not to harm them and not to commit criminal acts toward them. In sexual abuse cases, there may be a third party such as a church or school that owes an additional duty of care.
  2. Sexual abuse or sexual assault. There must be an act of sexual abuse by a person or a failure to prevent such abuse – in either case, there is a breach of the duty of care.
  3. Damages. The victim must sustain damages or harm as a result of the abuse.
  4. Causal link. There must be a causal connection between the intentional or negligent acts and the damage or harm.

To move forward with a personal injury claim based on sexual abuse, there is a need to make sure the defendant(s) has resources to pay the settlement of jury award. If they do not, it raises the question of taking on such a sensitive matter and risking traumatizing the victim all over again. Many sexual abusers will not have financial sources to pay for a settlement, and that's why it is important that a third party also be held liable for the wrongdoing.

Liability in Personal Injury Claims for Sexual Abuse in California

Sexual abuse commonly results from an individual's actions, and as such, the abuser is the liable party – that's straightforward. In addition, a company or organization can also be liable in a personal injury claim – this type of defendant is not always straightforward. There are many factors that must be considered when determining all potential liable parties.

If an abuser holds a position of authority within an organization, such as a supervisor or religious leader, they might use their influential position to take advantage of an individual. A personal injury claim often depends on the procedures and policies put in place to prevent sexual abuse when the abuser holds power within an organization or company.

For example, a failure to perform proper background checks on job applicants could be negligent behavior. If the procedures are not adequate or not followed, the organization or company – in addition to the sexual abuser – could be held liable. 

The state of California creates institutional liability via statute. When a church, school, or another organization involves the care or oversight of children, statutes may outline specific legal obligations to protect and prevent harm of children. Many institutions and organizations also carry liability coverage. 

If you are in Southern California and have a question on institutional liability please reach out to us at (310) 551-0949 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We will answer your questions and advise you on your best legal options.

Proving California Sexual Abuse

A sexual abuse personal injury claim requires the injured party to meet the burden of proof to establish liability. Criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest bar for proving a case, and that's why many people are found not guilty even if they might be. In civil cases, however, the burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much lower standard and simply means that the defendant more likely than not abused the victim.

If you live in Southern California in the areas of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Riverside & San Diego and feel like you cannot present a Sexual Abuse claim due to lack of evidence please reach out to us at (310) 551-0949 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We will answer your questions and advise you on your best legal options. 

Evidence can come in many forms and from many places, but it is a necessary part of proving a case. If the abuser was charged, the evidence from the criminal process can be used, and that's true regardless of whether or not the abuser was found guilty.

A physical examination by a healthcare provider and subsequent treatment and care could provide evidence of sexual abuse when there are physical injuries. Additionally, evidence of mental health counseling or therapy could provide proof of sexual abuse and the damages sustained.

Eyewitness statements could also be a significant form of evidence in proving sexual abuse and the resulting damages. To hold an organization or company liable, an injured party must provide evidence showing a failure to uphold the relevant standards of care. This might include evidence of a failure to follow policies or procedures in hiring, training, or supervising an employee or member.

Examples of Sex Abuse Personal Injury Claims

There have been many sex abuse cases in the news (most recently the case of Associate Principal for Hoover High School Charles de Freitas ) and many of them have led to significant settlements and jury awards. Some civil actions were against famous people and others were/are against well-known organizations.

Learn more about our recent verdict for our case O'Bymachow v Guerra $3 Million Settlement - San Diego, California

Other examples of sex abuse personal injury claims include:

  • Roman Catholic Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • R. Kelly, singer
  • Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News
  • Harvey Weinstein, American film producer
  • Bill Cosby, comedian and actor
  • Larry Nassar, Michigan State University
  • Jerry Sandusky, Former Penn State University Assistant Coach

In many of the above examples, third parties settled. For example, Penn State entered into a settlement with victims of Jerry Sandusky.

What to Do if You Have Are a Victim of Sex Abuse in San Diego and surrounding areas

If you are a victim of sex abuse, you should take a few steps to safeguard your well-being.

  1. Seek medical help. Medical help includes both physical help (for example, obtain a screening by a doctor for any physical injury) and mental help (for example, speak to a therapist or another person who can help you mentally and emotionally).
  2. Preserve any evidence. If you have clothes, letters, text messages, photographs, videos, or anything that may indicate or help with a sex abuse investigation, you should keep it.
  3. Make notes. Try to recall anything you can, including any potential witnesses. Take notes, even if a memory or thought seems insignificant, make note of it. Sex abuse is highly traumatic, and so it can be hard to remember everything.

After the abuser has been taken in and you feel safe, you or a loved one may want to reach out to us at (310) 551-0949 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We will answer your questions and advise you on your best legal options. Suing for sexual abuse can be a traumatic experience – it is a decision you must make after consulting loved ones and our expert attorneys at Dordick Law Corporation.

How a Sexual Abuse Injury Attorney in California Can Help

A sexual abuse case often becomes stressful and challenging, especially when an injured person is trying to recover from the harm caused by the abuse. This type of case also differs significantly from other personal injury cases, which our sexual abuse attorneys at Dordick Law Corporation understand.

For instance, we can help argue for an extension of the state statute of limitations when sexual abuse occurred several years earlier in the injured person's life. Additionally, we work with experts routinely to provide their professional analysis and opinions as well as to help establish and prove your sexual abuse claim and damages.

Contact a Sexual Abuse Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, and Surrounding Areas Today

Victims of sex abuse can experience serious physical, emotional, and mental harm. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be debilitating. So, a sexual abuse personal injury claim in California can help a victim feel empowered. It helps them get the compensation they need to try to move forward with their lives and get the care they need to heal.

At Dordick Law Corporation, we will work to hold all parties responsible for their actions. Call us today at (310) 551-0949 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We will answer your questions and advise you on your best legal options.

Explore additional resources on other aspects of Sexual Abuse below:

Boy waiting a school bus
Sexual Abuse in Schools

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