Learning your child has been sexually abused is devastating, but finding the right child sexual abuse lawyer can help your family begin to heal, bring the abuser to justice and possibly secure a significant damages award to help pay for the ongoing care and support your child will need to recover from the abuse. If you have little to no experience working with an attorney, you are not alone. PCVA is here to help. We have identified 10 frequently asked questions to help you find a child sexual abuse attorney who will vigorously advocate for you and your family.
1. How can a child sexual abuse lawyer help me?
As a parent or guardian, you want your child’s abuser and those whose negligence allowed the abuse to happen to be held accountable. You will also want an attorney who has experience pursuing those responsible for monetary damages to help in your child and your family’s healing.
Having an experienced child sexual abuse lawyer can help you understand complex child sexual abuse laws and your options for getting justice for your child. They help you navigate a confusing court system and the potential involvement of other agencies like law enforcement and child protective services (CPS). Additionally, your lawyer can review your case to determine if others can be held responsible for your child’s sexual abuse.
At PCVA, we have handled cases involving schools and school districts, school and community athletics organizations, government social services organizations, faith-based organizations like the Catholic Church, and community-based organizations like the Boy Scouts and Kiwanis International, among others. Our dedicated child sexual abuse attorneys work aggressively to give your child a voice in the legal justice system.
2. How do I find a reputable child sexual abuse lawyer?
It’s important for you to find a reputable child sexual abuse lawyer in your area because they understand the laws and statutes of limitations applicable in your state. Unsure of where to start? Word-of-mouth referrals from trusted friends and family are one way to find an attorney. You can also access online lawyer databases like SuperLawyers.com, Findlaw.com, and Avvo.com, which allow you to search anonymously using a combination of keywords and your location. Depending on where you live, your city and state may have additional resources to connect you with a qualified child sexual abuse lawyer. Those resources are available online and may be found using a quick internet search.
That said, no matter the method you use to find a child sexual abuse lawyer, you will want to vet the attorney. While a personal injury lawyer may say they can handle your child sexual abuse lawsuit, their ability to get you the justice you deserve depends on a number of factors, including their experience in this niche area of law as well as their track record of success. PCVA has both the experience and the track record, which is why we are frequently sought after by survivors of sexual abuse.
3. How much does a child sexual abuse attorney cost?
Generally, most child sexual abuse lawyers will agree to meet with you for a free initial consultation. If they ask you to pay, look elsewhere. After that initial consultation, any costs to represent you and your family will vary based on how the firm handles plaintiff’s cases (e.g., flat fee, percentage of damages recovered, etc.). The cost of representation is one of the important questions to ask a potential child sexual abuse attorney.
At PCVA, we work on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.
4. Is hiring a child sexual abuse lawyer confidential?
Generally, if you are consulting with a child sexual abuse lawyer and seeking legal advice or representation, the consultation is confidential even if you choose not to hire the lawyer. When you formally hire a child sexual abuse lawyer, you form an attorney-client relationship, which is privileged and confidential. As part of the process, some information that a court considers part of the public record will be made public.
At PCVA, we understand how to navigate the legal system to help you and your family retain privacy. The law usually allows attorneys to file lawsuits on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse using a pseudonym, like “John Doe” or “Jane Doe,” or our client’s initials. Moreover, it may be possible to resolve your case privately without filing a lawsuit or going to court.
5. What qualities should I look for in a child sexual abuse lawyer?
It’s important to find a lawyer who is licensed in your state, has significant experience handling cases like yours, and a proven track record of success. That information is easy to search for and find online. During your initial consultation, you should ask questions that let you find out things that are not so easily found online, like whether the child sexual abuse lawyer is a good listener, is empathetic and understanding, and is committed to helping you aggressively fight for your child’s rights.
At PCVA, our attorneys have been involved in some of the most complicated and concerning sexual abuse cases in the country and are often consulted by other law firms for guidance and expertise when representing sexual abuse survivors. We take a trauma-informed approach to our representation that acknowledges the sensitive nature of these cases. Our results speak for themselves.
6. What questions should I ask a potential child sexual abuse lawyer?
The point of interviewing potential child sexual abuse lawyers is to ensure you are confident in your lawyer’s abilities and are comfortable working with them. Ask as many questions as you need to understand their experience, how they have handled similar cases, how they communicate with you, what they charge and more. Consider asking critical questions like:
- Will my consultation with you remain confidential?
- How will anyone learn about my child sexual abuse case and lawsuit?
- How much experience do you have as a child sexual abuse attorney?
- Do you provide trauma-informed counsel?
- How many cases of child sexual abuse have you won in the past?
- How many cases of child sexual abuse (and other cases) are you currently handling?
- Will you personally handle my child sexual abuse case?
- How many of your child sexual abuse cases go to trial?
- How will you communicate with me regarding my child sexual abuse case (e.g., phone, email, text)?
- Are you available only during business hours, or are you reachable outside of those hours?
- How much will you charge to represent my family in our child sexual abuse?
Listen to their answers and observe how you are treated. If you do not get answers that give you confidence in the lawyer’s abilities or you do not feel comfortable, it’s perfectly fine for you to interview other potential child sexual abuse attorneys.
7. Can I file a child sexual abuse lawsuit on behalf of my child?
Yes. As a legal caregiver, you can file a civil child sexual abuse lawsuit on behalf of you and your child.
8. What compensation can I see in a child sexual abuse case?
In a civil lawsuit, you can seek compensation for your child for the physical and emotional harm they experienced from the abuse.
9. Are there any legal time limits for filing a child sexual abuse lawsuit?
Legal time limits for filing a child sexual abuse lawsuit — known as “statutes of limitations” — exist and vary by state. Child USA has an online, state-by-state listing of statutes of limitations. Additionally, your child sexual abuse lawyer will be able to tell you about any deadlines for taking legal action.
PCVA has written an article to help you better understand the Washington State statute of limitations for child sexual abuse civil lawsuits that you can access here.
10. Are child sexual abuse lawyers experienced in dealing with trauma and sensitive cases?
This experience varies from law firm to law firm. You should ask this question during your initial consultation with a child sexual abuse lawyer.
As mentioned, at PCVA, our child sexual abuse lawyers are trained in trauma-informed counsel. This means that to prevent re-traumatization, we have undergone professional training on how to work with individuals who have been subjected to trauma. When you work with us, know that you are working with an advocate who represents you with the utmost empathy and care.
How can PCVA help?
When someone your family knows and trusts betrays that trust by sexually abusing your child, it may be difficult to confide in and trust people again. Finding an empathetic and experienced child sexual abuse lawyer to represent your family can help you and your child begin to heal, bring the abuser to justice and give your family closure.
PCVA’s child sexual abuse lawyers are here to listen and help. Schedule a no obligation consultation with one of our lawyers by completing our online form or calling us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850. All conversations are completely confidential.
You can learn more about our experience representing survivors of child sexual abuse and view just a fraction of our many case results here.