Children placed in foster care already face significant trauma having been removed from their families. Sadly, some end up experiencing even more trauma – sexual abuse by foster parents or others entrusted with their care. If you suffered sexual abuse while in the foster care system, you may be eligible for financial compensation, though seeking it often involves overcoming tough hurdles, which is why it is essential to work with an experienced foster care sexual abuse lawyer.
Proving The Abuse Occurred
The first challenge in getting any type of compensation is having evidence that the abuse actually occurred. Given most sexual abuse occurs in private without other witnesses, a case will typically rely heavily on the victim’s testimony. When abuse by foster parents or guardians occur that violates a special relationship that was built on care and authority given to the foster parents by government officials more often than not. Victims rightfully feel scared about reporting abuse by the very people supposed to protect them. However, everyone needs to know that social workers, teachers and medical professionals can be a source to rely upon.
Fellow foster children or siblings, social workers, teachers or counselors who noticed worrisome signs at the time, or even physical evidence like journals documenting abuse may help corroborate stories. Consulting sexual assault advocacy groups can help access recovery resources and navigate reporting. Even though it may not feel like there’s a place to turn, there are resources, like talking to an adult outside of the home. Reporting any kind of abuse is key to any sexual abuse case.
Statutes of Limitation
All states limit civil claims with statutes of limitation requiring cases to be filed by a certain deadline from the incident. Historically short windows for childhood sexual abuse cases left many victims unable to seek justice upon recognizing harm later into adulthood. However, in recent years, many states have enacted reforms either extending or even eliminating limitation windows for abuse lawsuits. Consulting a foster care abuse lawyer knowledgeable with the latest local laws remains key.
Overcoming Government Immunity
Suing foster parents or guardians directly certainly helps make victims whole. However, holding larger entities like government agencies accountable will give the victims additional justice because government agencies generally make adjustments to provide better oversight and prevent future abuse. But doctrines of government immunity often block agency liability forcing victims to instead target individual social workers. Some state supreme courts have issued made decisions that favor accountability so victims can seek restitution.
In civil cases, claimants must demonstrate the other parties failed to meet reasonable duties of care leading to the claimants injuries. In the foster care system, the government agencies and their employees and agents, for example social workers assume immense responsibility to insure the safety and protection of children. Because the foster care system provides a great help to many children who need the care and support, it can be very difficult to prove any wrongdoing. Whether it is the government, private foster care group, or individual social workers, all of them play a significant role when it comes to any form of abuse while in foster care and how victims get justice for that will ultimately depend on the abuse and the lack of care in each individual case.
Sexual trauma, especially childhood abuse, carries extremely high costs – long-term mental health treatment, lost quality of life, and even physical symptoms manifest later. Economic valuations fail to adequately capture survivors’ suffering. Civil courts depend on regular everyday people to sit as a jury and try to definesome numeric loss or lawyers and judges come up with some number to place a reasonable value on those losses and many times its never enough.
Seeking justice through long civil lawsuits ultimately takes continued tolls on victims. Many choose to settle out-of-court and to avoid trial despite reduced payment. Confidential agreements also prevent public agency admissions of fault which could potentially protect future children. Compensation helps pay mounting case costs, especially with multi-party liability and delays in court. Consult foster care sexual abuse lawyers detached from personal feelings around foster care organizations before signing any binding legal contracts.
Accessing Other Compensation Funds
Beyond foster agencies and individual caretakers, some other entities like churches, schools, hospitals, or even the Boy Scouts have established special compensation funds available for abuse victims meeting established eligibility criteria. These no-fault claims processes deliver extra financial help faster without litigation. However, amount limits and waiver of future liability against parties tied to the funds often apply. These options warrant exploration supplementing any lawsuits eventually filed.
The trauma of sexual abuse by trusted foster guardians negatively impacts victims throughout life. Financial settlements cannot erase those memories but may ease burdens going forward. Complicated legal doctrines and short statutes of limitation should not deter seeking accountability and restitution. Consulting experienced foster care sexual abuse lawyers to explore all available options. While the road towards justice contains obstacles at every turn, taking the first step matters most.
What Legal Options Are Available to Foster Care Sexual Abuse Survivors?
Survivors of foster care sexual abuse have the legal right to seek justice and financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. Survivors can sue the person who sexually abused or assaulted them and, depending on the situation, may be able to sue other parties, such as foster care agencies, social workers, and residential care facilities.
It is critical to understand that a civil lawsuit is separate from a criminal lawsuit. The government brings a criminal lawsuit against the alleged offender for a crime. In a criminal case, the perpetrator may have their freedom taken away for the crime.
A civil lawsuit, on the other hand, involves the abuse survivor and the liable party or parties. These parties may include the abuser and the institution responsible for the safety and well-being of foster children. In a civil case, survivors can seek justice and accountability through financial compensation for their damages. In most cases, this is the only way for survivors to seek damages for the harm they suffered.
The Fight for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors
At Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys, we approach each case with a deep sense of responsibility, compassion, and commitment. We recognize that survivors of sexual abuse face unique challenges and trauma. We work tirelessly to hold perpetrators and negligent institutions accountable and secure the justice and compensation our clients need and deserve.
Our foster care sexual abuse attorneys work diligently to investigate each case’s circumstances, understand the failures that led to the abuse, and pursue justice and compensation for survivors. We offer a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation.
During a consultation, we provide a safe space for you to share your story, ask any legal questions, and explore your best legal options for moving forward. Call us at (888) 779-1180 or submit our online contact form to schedule your consultation today.
A pending criminal case does not affect the timeline of a civil case. You should not wait to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party, even if they face criminal charges. Waiting could mean missing critical deadlines and your chance to sue for damages.