Sexual abuse in New Jersey has become more prevalent in the last decade.
Fortunately, victims of sexual assault are not left without recourse. In addition to bringing the perpetrator of sexual assault to justice through the criminal justice system, victims of sexual assault can seek monetary compensation from a wrongdoer through a civil lawsuit in New Jersey. It is common for victims of sexual abuse and/or assault to experience significant emotional distress resulting from the trauma of the assault. Often times, victims require costly and intensive therapy or counseling in order to cope with the ensuing emotional anguish.
Schiller McMahon’s personal injury attorneys have substantial experience dealing with victims of sexual abuse. As former prosecutors, our attorneys worked closely with victims of sexual assault in bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice. We spent years building cases against criminals and have transferred that knowledge and experience to the private sector, where we assist victims in building formidable cases against their offenders with the goal of achieving some form of justice while simultaneously providing victims with the compensation necessary to move on with their life.
In situations where a child under the age of eighteen is sexually abused, New Jersey provides a specific cause of action for victims to recover compensation from abusers under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:61B-1). Under CSAA, sexual abuse is defined as an act of sexual contact or sexual penetration between a child under the age of 18 years and an adult. Specifically, the CSAA holds parents, resource family parents, guardians, or any other persons standing in loco parentis liable for committing sexual abuse on a minor. Additional examples of persons who courts have held to be standing in loco parentis include Youth Correction Detention Centers and Private Boarding Schools (Public schools are excluded by the statute; however, a victim of sexual abuse by a teacher in a public school has several other causes of action).
Victims that prevails in a civil action under the CSAA are entitled to compensatory damages (meant to compensate the victim), punitive damages (meant to punish the perpetrator) and attorneys fees. Compensatory damages include, but are not limited to, damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional trauma, diminished childhood, diminished enjoyment of life, costs of counseling and lost wages.
Further, school authorities are obligated to take reasonable precautions for the safety and well being of students that attend their school. As such, school personnel in New Jersey – teachers, principals, etc. – owe a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of students that parents have entrusted to them. School personnel can be found guilty a violating this duty by their actions or their failure to act.
The statute of limitations to file a lawsuit in most cases is two years; however, should the offending party be a public entity or individual employed by a public entity in New Jersey, the time to file a claim is only 90 days. In some instances, children that have been sexually abused repress the memory of the abuse and the emotional trauma associated with the abuse haunts them subconsciously for many years. In these instances, courts have held that the statute of limitations may be tolled (delayed) based on the fact that the victim did not discover that he/she suffered injuries due to the abuse.
In all cases, it is essential that key evidence is collected as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for important evidence to “go missing” or be lost or destroyed. Our attorneys are equipped with the knowledge and tools to secure pertinent evidence before it vanishes.
Should our Firm accept representation of your case, it will be handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless and until a monetary award is received through a settlement or jury verdict.
We offer free, in-office consultations. If your or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, contact Schiller McMahon to discuss your case with our attorneys today.