New York State’s Child Victims Act is an important change in the State’s legislation that will impact how childhood sexual abuse victims report their abuse. Among other things, the law allows survivors a one year window to file claims relating to their abuse even though the statute of limitations applicable at the time of the abuse has expired. Many survivors tend to come forth with their abuse later in life for various reasons including, but not limited to, shame, embarrassment, fear of reliving the trauma and other life-changing consequences. While the norm has been for survivors to report their abusers in adulthood, children also come forward and speak on their traumatic experiences.
Many sexual abuse cases go unheard because the children do not tell an adult or parent/guardian what is happening to them. However, when a child does disclose their abuse to an adult, it can be a harrowing ordeal, especially for parents/guardians. Parents/guardians first have to understand that the child came to them for reassurance and comfort; this should be seen as a positive action and should not result in the reprimanding or blaming of the child in any fashion. Actively abused children are looking for understanding and are most likely scared of what will happen next.
For child victims coming forward as adults, that scared feeling is still heavily present. As adults, survivors may no longer have the support of a parent, guardian or mentor to guide them through the legal process, so it may be even more frightening to come forward and pursue a case, especially when they are unaware of what to expect.
When a parent/guardian or victim first seeks to work with Herman Law, we engage in an intake and interview process to get a firmer understanding of the situation and what happened. This is often the time when questions about the money part of the lawsuit come up. How much will it financially cost to bring justice to their child or themselves? It surprises many to learn that it does not have to cost anything to the family or the victim. In the typical case we don’t take any money from clients for our fee because we work on a contingency basis. This means unless money is collected on behalf of the family, no money is paid to us by the client. In the State of New York, a lawyer would only receive as a fee one third of whatever the recovery turns out to be. With this, parents/guardians and victims can be at ease knowing their pockets will not bleed in the process of justice.
Much of the legal process after that is in the hands of the lawyers. We collect as much initial evidence as possible to support the survivor’s story and then once we feel the claim is properly vetted, we file the lawsuit against the accused and/or the organization responsible. We then dig into discovery where we gain more evidence as well as take depositions from witnesses and anyone who can corroborate the survivor’s story. Many of the cases are settled before going to trial, which is a relief for parents/guardians or adult survivors who do not wish to put their children or themselves through that ordeal. However, trial or no trial, the act of telling their stories historically has shown to be an advantage for the survivors and their healing process.
Brave children and adult victims deserve to be supported when they decide to let their truth be heard. The lawyers of Herman Law want to be a part of that support system. Give us a call at (800) 686-992 or visit our website learn more about how we can help in giving you or your child the representation they deserve in the fight for their voice.