Molestation Victims May Pursue Civil Claims
As the smoke starts to clear on the Penn State-Sandusky molestation claims, Syracuse University molestation accusations, and other recent child molestation claims, one major victory for me as a crime victim's rights advocate is that the public is seemingly more aware that victims have rights to pursue civil claims as crime victims.
Florida has a comprehensive crime victim's rights law. The law ranges from the rights in criminal proceedings, to victim's compensation, to Florida's Constitution, to civil claims for crime victims.
What types of compensation can a crime victim recover in Florida?
After a child is molested, there are three main areas of compensation in Florida: 1) restitution through the criminal proceeding, 2) reimbursement or other compensation through Florida's Victim's Compensation Fund, and 3) through a civil claim. Many attorneys will tell you that restitution is often broken, with victims finding it difficult to ever collect any money from the assailant. Victim's Compensation is a great resource through Florida's Attorney General's Office to provide crime victims with the money to pay for medical bills, counseling, lost wages and other out of pocket losses. Victim's Compensation, however, does not pay for pain and suffering or emotional trauma.
Why Pursue a Civil Claim?
A civil claim is brought in the name of the victim, or as a Jon Doe or anonymous name to protect the victim's identity. The victim may have more control over the case, as it is "their case". In the criminal case, on the other hand, the State Attorney brings the claim on behalf of the State of Florida, not the victim. The victim may be seen as a witness to a crime committed against the State, rather than the main party to the lawsuit.
What Damages Can A Molestation Victim Recover?
In a civil victim's rights case in Florida, a molestation victim may be entitled to money for medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, humiliation, emotional trauma, distress, and even punitive damages. Many of these damage awards cannot be recovered through restitution or Florida's Crime Victim Compensation Fund.
If you were the victim of molestation in Florida, you may be able to pursue a civil claim in addition to any criminal case or Victim Compensation Fund claim that is being made. Call me today at (800) 337-7755 to see if you can bring a civil claim as a result of a molestation. I've represented many victims of molestation in civil claims, including those against churches, schools, day cares, shopping malls, banks, and others.