Sexual Abuse - Plaintiff Law

Sexual Abuse Survivors: What To Expect in Your First Legal Consultation

This content contains sensitive subject matter related to sexual abuse.

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, you may be able to take your abuser to court to be held accountable. Separate from a criminal case, survivors of sexual assault can go to civil court for financial compensation.

Going through a civil sexual abuse case can be difficult. Knowing what to expect can help you through the process. An experienced sexual abuse attorney can help you prepare for a sexual abuse case. Set up a legal consultation with a local sexual abuse attorney to learn more about your legal options.

A legal case generally begins with an initial consultation. This may be your most important meeting when deciding on a sexual abuse attorney to handle your civil lawsuit. Many sexual assault and abuse attorneys will offer a free initial consultation. This is a no-obligation chance to meet with the attorney and see if they have experience handling sexual assault cases like yours. You should use this opportunity to ask any questions about your civil case and what you can expect going forward.

If you don’t think the attorney is the right fit for you, consult someone else. When talking to an attorney, feel comfortable with the person you’re talking to. Consider bringing a family member with you for support. A sexual abuse case involves discussing a lot of personal and sensitive information. You should feel confident in being able to discuss what happened openly.

The attorney will ask general questions about your sexual assault case, like what happened and when it happened. Your attorney’s questions should be relevant to your sexual abuse case and help them determine what kind of civil lawsuit claim you might have and how they can help. For example, asking when the sexual assault occurred may have to do with your state’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse.

What Should I Bring to the First Consultation?

Bring any relevant information to the initial in-person consultation. Most adult survivors of sexual violence cases don’t have a lot of physical evidence, but any evidence you have can be helpful for your attorney. This could include a police report, criminal court records, photos, videos, social media posts, emails, or text messages.

You should also bring a list of questions you have. Having a list of questions can ensure you get around to asking all your questions and don’t leave anything out. You can also bring paper and a pen to write down any notes or information you want to remember.

At the end of the consultation, ensure you know what to expect next and how to proceed with your case.

What Can I Expect Before Filing a Sexual Abuse Claim?

There are some important things for victims of sexual assault to know about bringing a lawsuit in civil court. Knowing what to expect in terms of benefits and risks can help. If you have any questions about what you can expect, discuss them with your attorney.

A civil sexual abuse lawsuit is held in civil court. Filing a lawsuit means your claim will generally be part of the public record. However, you may be able to file your claim under a pseudonym. Ask your attorney about keeping your name private in the legal action.

The legal system can be slow. Most cases don’t wrap up in a matter of days or weeks. Your case may go on for months or longer. The courthouse may have a backlog of civil cases, and hearings and meetings regularly get pushed back or rescheduled because of conflicts. Be prepared for your sexual assault case to take longer than you expect.

The discovery phase of a lawsuit involves the exchange of information. In a sexual abuse case, this can include depositions or question-and-answer sessions. The defense attorney may be able to depose you, and you must respond to their questions. This can be difficult to have to tell your story of abuse to someone who is not sympathetic to your case. However, your attorney can help you prepare for a deposition so you know what to expect.

A trial can be difficult for crime victims when the defense attorney says whatever they can to defend their client. The defense attorney may paint the abuser as innocent or blame the victim for the abuse. This can be confrontational and traumatic for the victim of abuse and sexual assault, so you must protect your mental health, too. Or, your case may settle, so you don’t have to go through the trial.

For any other questions about what to expect in a sexual abuse trial, talk to a sexual abuse lawyer for legal advice.

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