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Understanding Remedial Measures in Child Abuse Actions


Personal Injury

The Gainesville Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys, of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A., provide the following to assist parents in understanding remedial measures in child sexual abuse actions. When a child is victimized by a sexual predator, the devastating effects of such abuse can be overwhelming, not only for the victim, but also for the victim’s family. When another person causes harm to our child, it is a natural parental reaction, to feel compelled to seek justice on our child’s behalf. If your minor child was the victim of sexual abuse, it is important that you understand the distinction between criminal and civil actions, and the specific remedies that pertain to each.

Discovering that your child may have been the victim of sexual abuse can trigger immense feelings of anger towards the perpetrator, as well as those, whose negligent or intentional actions, allowed such abuse to occur. A common initial reaction of some parents is to contact authorities to document the incident, with the hope that an investigation will result in criminal charges against the perpetrator.

For other parents, they may prefer to keep the matter private until they are able to consult with an attorney that can assist in making a determination as to the most suitable course of action. In some cases, reporting the abuse may be required. However, if the abuser is not living within the home, and there is no other statutory reporting requirements, parents who choose the latter option are generally entitled to choose the remedial measure(s) that they see most appropriate under the circumstances.

It is important for parents to understand that the criminal justice system and civil justice system are not mutually exclusive options in most case of child sexual abuse. In other words, a parent can assist in the initiation, pursuit and prosecution against the perpetrator for criminal charges by way of the criminal justice system, or seek compensation in a civil action by way of the civil justice system, or both.

Another important thing to know is that a decision in one system, generally will not preclude, effect, or alter the decision in another. Consequently, even if the accused perpetrator is not convicted of any criminal charges, the victim may still seek compensation for injuries in a civil action. Understanding the remedies available, as well as processes involved in each system is highly important, in terms of making an informed decision regarding the appropriate course of action.

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In the criminal system, the most significant consequence is the initiation of criminal charges that can ultimately result is the perpetrator’s conviction. In addition, there are other remedies within the criminal justice system to compensate the victim for harm caused. For example, Restitution is compensation that the court orders the perpetrator to pay to the victim for damages occurring as a result of the criminal’s actions. State Compensation is an additional means that a victim can obtain compensation for losses. Both State Compensation and Restitution can include compensation for damages such as medical bills, counseling, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses.

In contrast to the criminal justice system, the civil justice system is another means by which the victim of sexual abuse can receive compensation. Civil actions are a common method of legal recourse in cases where the victim was abused while under the care, custody, and control of a business, facility, organization, or other person(s) or entity. Claims will typically involve allegations of general negligence, but may also include specific types of negligence such as negligent hiring or negligent supervision. In addition to compensatory damages, the victim of sexual abuse may also be entitled to recover punitive damages.

As parents we can only do so much to protect our children from potential harms of society. For the vast majority of parents, staying home with young children, and home-schooling our school-age children are simply not feasible options. Even for the few parents that are able to stay home with their children, isolating them from the outside world for the sole purpose of protecting them from harm, can hinder their ability to grow into normal and healthy adults. When another person abuses your child, seeking justice on their behalf not only ensures that adequate financial resources will be available to assist in your child’s recovery, but also helps in preventing similar abuse of other children.