When survivors stand up against sexual abusers, it’s because they’ve bravely chosen to confront the pain and trauma caused by those abusers. For most, reaching this point took weeks, months, or even years. Each survivor’s journey is their own; there are many paths by which sexual abuse survivors find closure.
For many, however, one important step is determining whether they can sue for the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of a doctor or medical professional. While we all want to believe that the answer is a resounding “yes,” it is a complicated question.
It may be surprising, but sexual abuse occurring in hospitals and/or by doctors is more common that you may realize. This post explores the complexities of determining whether a sexual abuse survivor can sue their doctor, medical professional, or care facility for their abuse.
Victims May File a Lawsuit Against a Doctor for Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse survivors too often feel isolated and alone in their circumstances. While many can empathize with survivors’ pain, we want to be clear that victims do not need to feel alone. As we mentioned, sexual abuse in hospitals is more common that many people think.
Survivors must know that their bravery to come forward may empower another to do the same. As more come forward, the harder it is for an abusive doctor to remain in practice.
It is essential that survivors contact a sexual abuse attorney about filing a lawsuit if you have experienced abuse by doctor or at a hospital, nursing home or other medical facility.
There Are Key Differences Between a Civil Lawsuit and Criminal Charges
While justice must be sought for survivors, it’s important to know how civil suits and criminal charges differ. The following is a broad overview, and not meant to be exhaustive or perceived as legal advice. Only an experienced attorney can give you specific advice about your unique situation.
In civil lawsuits, the survivor or someone on the survivor’s behalf pursues the case to compensate the survivor. If the doctor on trial loses the lawsuit, they pay compensation to the survivor. The verdict is reached based on the evidence presented in court.
In cases seeking criminal charges, however, a prosecutor pursues the case and seeks punishment for the doctor’s sexual abuse. If the doctor is found guilty, they must pay fines to the state and face jail time and/or other penalties. The doctor’s fate is determined when the burden of proof is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Remember: there are many factors to consider and questions to ask an attorney before filing a lawsuit or bringing criminal charges. Make sure you have an experienced sexual abuse lawyer on your side.
You May Have a Limited Timeframe In Which to Sue a Doctor For Sexual Abuse
Each state has its own statute of limitations, limiting the time sexual abuse survivors have to sue. Nearly every state determines different time windows after the incident of sexual abuse by a doctor or any other perpetrator where adults and children can file a suit.
In too many instances, survivors are unaware of their state’s statute of limitations, which is one of the reasons why so many sexual abuse perpetrators get away with it. In virtually all cases, children have more time to sue than adults. Still, it is essential that you understand your state’s statute of limitations so you can determine how much time you have to come forward.
It’s best to speak with an attorney about your state’s statute of limitations.
Place Your Trust in a Team of Compassionate and Experienced Sexual Abuse Attorneys
We understand the mental anguish that may accompany considering whether you want to file a lawsuit against your sexual abuser. That’s why when you contact Hurley McKenna & Mertz for your free consultation, we’ll listen intently and help you understand your options. You are under no financial obligation when you speak with us.
We’re here to help you confidently take the next step in your healing journey. Reach out to us today to get started.