When you entrust your elderly relative, sick loved one, or child to an institution like a school, church, or hospital, you should never have to worry about them experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of another party. Unfortunately, these are often the most common site of sexual abuse in Florida. If you or a loved one have suffered sexual abuse, you may be able to recover compensation for your trauma through civil litigation, even if the statute of limitations has expired for criminal charges.
You have the right to reclaim justice for egregious actions committed against you or a loved one, and you don't have to go through the litigation process alone. The Florida sexual abuse lawyers of Osborne & Francis will be with you every step of the way during the personal injury claims process.
We aren’t afraid to take on the tough issues to get you the compensation you deserve. You can schedule a confidential, free consultation with one of our sexual abuse attorneys to learn more about your legal options. Call us at (561) 293-2600 or contact our Orlando or Boca Raton office online.
Sexual Abuse Can Occur in Preschools and Daycares
Parents should exercise extreme caution when vetting preschools and daycare centers for their children, as young children are vulnerable to sexual abuse and lack the ability to consent. Children may be too young to understand or even articulate what is happening to them, which means that abusers can continue harming children undetected.
The CDC reports that “about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the United States experience child sexual abuse.” Knowing the signs of child sexual abuse is important information for any adult to be aware of. The effects of childhood sexual assault can last for the rest of a person’s life, impacting their health, relationships, and career.
Churches Have a History of Covering Up Sexual Abuse
Dealing with sexual abuse within religious institutions has historically been difficult. Survivors may be hesitant to come forward because of the religious stigma surrounding sex, or a fear of not being believed or being retaliated against. Sometimes spiritual leaders will exert their influence over staff and members of the congregation to avoid facing consequences.
Infamously, the Catholic Church has faced criticism for the decades of sexual abuse they deliberately hid from the public. Most recently, the Southern Baptist Convention came under scrutiny for covering up cases of sexual abuse over the past few decades.
Medical Facilities and Hospitals Can Be Held Liable for Sexual Abuse
When you or a loved one seek treatment from a medical provider, you should be able to trust that you will be safe while you are in their care. This is not always the case. As a medical facility inpatient, you are in a vulnerable situation. You may be bed bound, have trouble communicating, or be under the influence of powerful medication. This presents an opportunity for sexual abuse, as you may not be able to flee, fight, or even call for help. It is also possible that you may not remember the assault as a result of being administered medication or as a trauma response. The person who perpetrated the sexual abuse and the facility or hospital they work for can potentially be found liable for damages in a Florida personal injury lawsuit.
Children Are at Risk For Abuse in Foster Care and Group Homes
Children who are placed in foster care or group homes are especially vulnerable to being sexually abused. Oftentimes, they are moved around a lot which can make maintaining relationships difficult. As a result, they may not feel that they have a safe adult to confide in. Additionally, they may have less supervision as a result of being moved from place to place where they may not be prioritized by their caretakers. Multiple studies have shown alarmingly high rates of sexual abuse amongst children in foster care, particularly girls.
Sexual Abuse Occurs on Sports Teams and in Other Activities
A trusted authority figure, such as a coach, is in a position to take advantage of athletes who rely on them for instruction and advice. Unfortunately, we have seen this dynamic play out in locker rooms and gyms across the country, and Florida is no exception. In some cases, the abuse goes undiscovered for decades. Other times, it is normalized within the culture of the sport or team. It can be difficult for survivors of sexual abuse to speak up for fear of losing their position on the team, damaging the reputation of the coach or other players, or because they have been led to believe that the abuse is normal.
Florida Nursing Homes Face Sexual Abuse Allegations
Sexual abuse of elderly nursing home residents may be perpetrated by negligent staff members or even by other residents. It is common for sexual abuse in nursing homes to go unreported for several reasons. First, the staff attempts to conceal the evidence of the crime to avoid being fired and charged or sued for negligence.
Second, vulnerable elderly residents are often physically and medically dependent on the nursing home facility to care for them, which creates an imbalance in the power dynamic. Abused residents often try to hide the abuse for fear of retaliation from staff or other residents. Another barrier to reporting nursing home sexual abuse is the fact that elderly residents may be suffering from neurological conditions that impact their memory or ability to communicate.
Recovering Damages in a Florida Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
Trauma stemming from sexual abuse can have a profound impact on a survivor, mentally and emotionally as well as physically. While the abuse can never be undone, many of our clients experience some relief at being able to recover financial compensation for costs like therapy, treatment for injuries, and pain and suffering.
Sexual abuse survivors often deal with the effects of their trauma for many years, so when we calculate the value of your damages we are taking a long-term perspective. For example, we consider the fact that sexual abuse survivors can also be more prone to substance abuse issues and mental illnesses like depression. In a personal injury lawsuit, they could potentially claim damages like missed paychecks for days when they required emergency mental health care or rehabilitation for drug abuse.
Examples of Damages in a Florida Sexual Abuse Claim:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
An important factor to keep in mind is the statute of limitations established under Florida law. Civil claims for sexual abuse that occurred when the plaintiff was under 16 can be brought at any time. Otherwise, there may be some time restrictions on how long you have to file a personal injury claim for damages.
Why Should I Hire a Florida Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
Proving that a client was sexually abused can be difficult, especially in cases where the abuse occurred years or even decades ago. The best way to protect your claim is to seek out a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the legal process of recovering compensation for damages. A sexual abuse attorney can be an invaluable asset to your claim. They will handle communication with the defendant’s representation, collect evidence to support your story, and protect your privacy.
In addition to the services that a personal injury lawyer can provide, you should consider how seriously your claim will be taken based on the representation you hire. Many of the institutions mentioned in this article have the resources to hire a formidable team of lawyers to support their position. If they see that you are representing yourself, they may try to take advantage of you and offer a much lower settlement figure than your damages are worth.
You should have your own tough team, and with no payment obligation, unless we settle, everyone can afford the quality services of Osborne & Francis.
At Osborne & Francis, we are proud to support survivors of sexual abuse as they pursue the damages that are rightfully owed to them.
Contact a Florida Sex Abuse Attorney at Osbourne & Francis Today
Experiencing sexual abuse or learning that your loved one has been abused is devastating. When a trusted institution perpetuates or conceals sexual abuse, you have the right to seek compensation for damages in a Florida sexual abuse lawsuit.
You can trust the personal injury lawyers of Osbourne & Francis to handle your claim with the respect and sensitivity it deserves.
Our talented team will go above and beyond to secure you a settlement that is reflective of the trauma that you have survived, even if that means we have to advocate for your claim in court.
Sexual abuse survivors deserve tenacious representatives who prioritize their needs. The sexual abuse lawyers of Osborne & Francis have the character, resources, and expertise to do just that. You can reach us at (561) 293-2600 to schedule a free case consultation. Or contact us online at our Orlando or Boca Raton office.
Additional Resources for Survivors of Sexual Abuse