According to the advocacy organization RAINN, one person is sexually abused or assaulted every 73 seconds in the United States. This act of violence can have a severe impact on survivors’ emotional and physical health and may contribute to financial hardship. If you are a sexual abuse survivor, you can pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator—and you can also file a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri civil court.
Through a sexual abuse lawsuit, you can seek justice and recover compensation from the perpetrator and the institutions that allowed the abuse to happen. The Kansas City sexual abuse attorneys at Goza & Honnold, LLC can represent you in your claim against the abuser, providing the support you need to hold him or her accountable.
Kansas City Sexual Abuse Resources
- Why Choose Us
- Potential Damages for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
- Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuit versus Criminal Charges
- Third-Party Liability
- What to Do If You Are a Victim of Sexual Abuse
- Contact Goza & Honnold
Why Choose Goza & Honnold
- Our Kansas City personal injury attorneys believe in empathy and compassion throughout the case process. We will take the time to listen to your story and carefully explain your next steps.
- Our firm has helped thousands of clients recover full and fair compensation from liable parties. We will work tirelessly to craft a compelling case on your behalf.
- Our attorneys have decades of experience helping clients recover from their experiences. We will use our resources to connect you with the help you need.
Potential Damages for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse can impact a survivor in several ways. You may need to receive medical attention for any injuries you suffered due to the assault, as well as mental health care to heal from the psychological trauma. You may be unable to go to work and struggle to cope with the financial and emotional toll of the abuse.
Through a civil lawsuit, you can recover compensation for two types of damages: economic and non-economic. While economic damages involve your financial losses, non-economic damages concern your physical and emotional pain and suffering. Common types of damages in sexual abuse lawsuits include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Mental health care
- Property damage
- Depression and anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuit versus Criminal Charges
Sexual abuse refers to abusive sexual behavior that one person enacts on another person without his or her consent. Sexual abuse is a crime in Missouri, and survivors can pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator. Penalties for criminal sexual abuse include prison time and fines.
After police investigate and arrest him or her, a prosecutor files criminal charges against the perpetrator and you may need to go to court. If he or she does not plead guilty, the prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the sexual abuse occurred for the court to convict the perpetrator.
In addition to criminal charges, you may pursue a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. While the purpose of a criminal case is to punish the perpetrator, the goal of a civil lawsuit is to provide monetary damages to the survivor. Since these claims follow a different process and do not result in criminal penalties, you can pursue a criminal case and a civil lawsuit for the same act of sexual abuse.
Instead of proving that the abuse occurred beyond a reasonable doubt, you and your attorney will only need to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that there is a greater than 50% chance that the abuse occurred. If you can prove the preponderance of the evidence, you can recover monetary damages for the losses you suffered due to the assault.
Depending on the specifics of your case, there may be third parties that are liable in addition to the individual who sexually abused you. It is possible to use negligent supervision or the failure to provide adequate security as a basis for a third-party claim. For instance, if the abuse occurred on a school campus, while at work, in a hospital, prison, psychiatric facility, or at a place of business. When there is an elevated risk of abuse or injury, property owners or managers are responsible for providing adequate security or supervision. If their failure to do so contributes to the cause of your harm, they may also be liable for damages.
As an example, hundreds of students or former students joined and successfully pursued a class-action lawsuit against the University of Southern California (USC) after being sexually abused, harassed, and molested by campus gynecologist George Tyndall M.D. USC was alleged to have known about the accusations of sexual assault and misconduct, yet allowed the physician to continue to see patients for three decades.
Times Limits for Sexual Assault Cases
Although the state of Missouri does not have a statute of limitations or time limit for criminal charges related to sexual abuse, there is a limit of five years for victims to initiate a civil claim. Failing to meet this deadline can keep you recovering the compensation that you truly deserve. There is an exception to this law, known as the Discovery Rule. In some cases, when the injured party could not have possibly been aware of an injury, the clock is delayed until the victim becomes aware of or should have become aware of the abuse.
The rules change, however, if the case is against a government employee or agency. A formal claim pursued against the government must be filed within 90 days from the date of injury.
The Missouri statute of limitations is expanded in cases involving childhood sexual abuse. In general, once a victim reaches the age of 18, they have ten years to pursue a legal claim for damages caused as a direct result of the assault or after discovering sexual abuse occurred.
What to Do If You Are a Victim of Sexual Abuse
After suffering sexual abuse, we strongly urge you to:
- Get yourself to safety. First and foremost, call 911 or find a safe location where you are out of danger.
- Seek medical help immediately. As soon as you can, call your doctor or go to urgent care or hospital for medical care and to medically document the attack. Many nursing staff or physicians are trained in sexual trauma and evidence collection. Although you do not have to make a decision now on whether to press charges against your attacker, completing an evidence collection kit or “rape kit” will be critical to a future claim. Once the evidence is gone, it will be much more challenging to hold your attacker accountable.
- Report the abuse. If you choose to seek medical care, the hospital is legally obligated to call the police. If you wish to speak to the officer, a police report can be filed. However, if you are not at the point where you want to talk to law enforcement, the National Sexual Assault Hotline provides confidential crisis support.
- Save evidence. Preserve any evidence if you don’t immediately seek medical care or report the abuse—for example, the clothing worn when the attack occurred and any other items that could contain evidence.
- Speak to an attorney. To find out your legal options for holding your attacker responsible and to protect your rights, speak to an experienced Kansas City Sexual Abuse Lawyer when you are ready.
Contact Goza & Honnold, LLC
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, you are not alone. The Kansas City sexual abuse lawyers at Goza & Honnold, LLC represent survivors in their personal injury claims against perpetrators, working tirelessly to secure the compensation they need to recover.
Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Kansas City sexual abuse attorney.