Child abuse is:

  1. Any action that results in imminent risk or serious harm, death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation
  2. Of a child
  3. By a parent, caretaker or any person that is responsible for the child’s welfare

Reporting Child Abuse

Child abuse laws in most states require that once physical injury on a child becomes apparent certain people are required to report it, including:

  • School officials
  • Doctors
  • Police

If these people were aware of the child abuse and did not report it they may be responsible to the child for the injuries that he/she suffered at the hands of the abuser.

Bringing a Lawsuit for Child Abuse

Time is of the essence. Each state has a "statute of limitations," which is the time limit when you are permitted to bring a lawsuit. If you delay past this time period, you will be prohibited from bringing a lawsuit for child abuse. Consult with a local lawyer to learn more about the time limits for bringing a child abuse lawsuit in your area.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Child Abuse

Some states extend the time limit within which to bring a child abuse lawsuit. These states usually allow the lawsuit to be filed a specific number of years after the child reaches adulthood, or after the abusive memory that was repressed resurfaces.

Criminal vs. Civil Court 

  • Criminal Child Abuse – a person is prosecuted by the district attorney’s office for committing child abuse against a victim. If you are facing criminal charges, you are in criminal court and need a criminal defense lawyer
  • Civil Child Abuse – involves the victim suing the person who committed the child abuse against them to recover damages for their injuries. If you want to sue someone for your child abuse injuries, or are being sued by the victim for money, you are in civil court and need an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Recovering Damages as a Victim of Child Abuse

Victims of child abuse often have a difficult time recovering for their losses. Most child abuse incidents involve individual abusers who do not have insurance or sufficient assets to pay for the victim’s injuries. There are exemptions, such as when the abuser was a member of an organization (e.g. a church), or a person with a duty to report the abuse but failed to do so (e.g. a doctor).

If the person who committed the child abuse against you does have the ability to pay if you win a lawsuit against them, you may be able to recover for your damages, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

Victim of Child Abuse?

If you or a loved one has been a victim of child abuse, you should speak to a lawyer immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies. A lawyer will be able to explain the value of your case and help you navigate through the complicated legal process. Most lawyers who handle these types of personal injury matters work on a contingency basis.

Accused of Child Abuse?

If you are accused of child abuse, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.

Vea esta página en español: Abuso de Menores Víctima o visita para más información legal.