Sexual abuse and sexual assault victims often have trouble coming forward about their experiences. Because of this, many instances of sexual abuse and sexual assault go undiscovered for years, and the assailants are never brought to justice. If you or your child was the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse in Texas, our Arlington, TX sexual abuse victim attorneys urge you to come forward and fight to seek justice in your case.
The injury and sexual abuse victim lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm represent victims of assault and abuse and their families, and we work to hold the responsible parties accountable for the harm they caused. We do this by filing civil lawsuits against the responsible parties, their employers, and other responsible institutions and organizations that contributed to your harm. For a free legal consultation and to learn more about this process, call our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.
How to Sue for Sexual Abuse in Texas
If you were the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your abuser. Typically, people think that their only option is to report the crime and see the abuser sent to jail. However, while reporting the crime is important, the criminal justice system focuses on arresting and incarcerating the abuser, not on the harm done to the victim. Instead, you may want to file a civil lawsuit against the assailant for the injuries, mental suffering, emotional distress, and other harms you faced because of the assault or abuse.
In these cases, the claim is filed by the victim against the abuser directly. This is different from the criminal court system where the state files the charges against the defendant. When you file your claim, you may also want to include other parties that shared responsibility for your abuse. If you were abused by someone like a priest or a teacher that was part of an institution, that institution may be at fault as well. Especially if they knew about the abuse or failed to provide you with proper supervision or security, they could be partly at fault for the abuse you suffered.
To win your claim, you must prove that the assailant intentionally touched you in a harmful or offensive way without your consent. Child victims are unable to give consent to sexual acts, so cases involving a child victim always lack consent, from a legal standpoint. If the assault meets specific definitions of various crimes in Texas, the case might have an extended filing deadline, so it may be important to prove additional elements in those kinds of cases.
Rather than the high standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard is lower in a civil lawsuit. The burden of proof in these cases is “by a preponderance of the evidence,” which essentially means that you must prove it was more likely than not that your claim is true. This burden of proof can be met by producing witness testimony, including your own testimony, about the events and the abuse you suffered.
Deadline to File Sexual Abuse Claims in Texas
If you were abused, you may not be willing to immediately come forward about the harm you faced. In many cases, abusers are people with power or authority, and speaking out against them could be embarrassing or terrifying. Additionally, victims who were children when the abuse or assault occurred might not have understood the effects of what happened at the time and will only understand what happened later in life. Because of this, many sexual assault and sexual abuse claims have extended deadlines and statutes of limitations.
The basic claim of assault has a 2-year deadline. This could cover any offensive or harmful touching.
If the touching constitutes the crime of sexual assault or meets the definition of certain other crimes, you have an extended 5-year deadline to file your case. This allows survivors time to come to terms with what happened before deciding to file their case.
If the touching meets the definition of other more serious crimes, typically crimes covering child sexual abuse, then the deadline is even longer. Currently, Texas law sets a 15-year deadline for these claims, but the legislature is considering extending the deadline to 30 years as of the writing of this article.
In many cases, the deadline may be extended beyond these deadlines. In cases where the victim does not know who the perpetrator was, they can file the case now against a fictional person (usually “John Doe” or “Jane Doe”), and the deadline is satisfied. This extends how long you have to bring the case against the right person, giving you 30 days from when you find out who it was to amend your case and make it against them.
In cases involving child victims, the deadline to file could be extended by many years. Children typically do not understand their right to sue and the impact of the harm they suffered, so the court allows them to wait until they turn 18 before the clock starts running on their statute of limitations deadline. This could potentially mean that a child sexual abuse victim has until they turn 33 to file, since that is 15 years after their 18th birthday. (If the statute of limitations is extended to 30 years, this would mean they have until their 48th birthday.)
Call Our Arlington Sexual Abuse Victim Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If you or a loved one was the victim of sexual assault or thinks they may have been the victim of child sexual abuse, contact The Queenan Law Firm today. Our Arlington, Texas attorneys for sexual abuse victims may be able to help you investigate your case and understand your claim. We can fight for you in court and work to get you the compensation and justice you deserve for your injuries, mental anguish, and other harms. For a free, confidential legal consultation with our compassionate personal injury and abuse lawyers, contact our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.