Filing a sexual assault or abuse civil lawsuit is about much more than collecting financial compensation. For a survivor of sexual abuse, coming forward with a case presents the opportunity to speak out against a perpetrator, hold an institution accountable, obtain justice and closure, and finally move forward. However, the financial amount awarded in a successful sexual abuse case can be a means to pay for the victim’s related losses. Three main types of compensation, also known as damages, can be awarded in these cases in Kansas.
Sexual abuse is a very personal crime that inflicts a great deal of harm on a victim physically and emotionally. There is also a financial toll that comes with sexual assault and abuse, however. A survivor may have to pay for various forms of medical care, in addition to losing money from being unable to work and having to pay to pursue a legal claim. The civil justice system refers to these losses as economic or special damages, as they are particular to the individual. They can include:
- Health care, including emergency care, a sexual assault forensic exam and medications
- Mental health care, such as therapy and counseling
- Travel and relocation costs
- Repairs for any property damage
- Lost wages from the inability to go to work
- Legal fees and other out-of-pocket costs
Calculating a survivor’s economic or tangible damages typically involves looking at bills, receipts and paystubs and adding up how much the sexual trauma has financially impacted the victim. It also requires estimating future foreseeable expenses in the victim’s life, such as ongoing counseling or prescription medications. During a civil lawsuit, a forensic accountant may be hired to assist in making these calculations.
Noneconomic damages typically factor significantly into a sexual abuse settlement or judgment award. Sexual abuse is an extremely traumatic type of tort or wrongdoing. Many survivors experience lasting intangible effects from being targeted for sex crimes, including daily struggles with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. This can lead to an overall reduction in the victim’s enjoyment of life and missed opportunities at work and school. In Kansas, a sexual abuse survivor can be awarded for all of these noneconomic damages, and more:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Psychological harm or trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Stress, fear or anxiety
- Decreased quality or enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
While no amount of money can make up for the trauma that you suffered as a survivor of sexual violence, obtaining fair and full financial compensation for these general damages can give you a greater sense of justice. It is also important to hold the perpetrator or an institution fully accountable for all of the losses that you suffered because of the sex crime – including those that do not have a monetary value. In a sexual abuse case, the noneconomic damages are often more significant to a victim than economic.
The third available category of damages in a Kansas sexual abuse lawsuit is punitive damages. Rather than compensating a victim for his or her losses, punitive damages punish a defendant for especially negligent, wrongful or malicious acts. Due to the nature of sexual assault and abuse crimes, punitive damages are more common in sexual assault cases than most other types of personal injury claims.
Punitive damages can increase the overall value of your settlement or judgment award by making the defendant pay an additional amount as a form of punishment. Punitive damages are also called exemplary damages, as they set an example to others about the consequences of committing sex crimes.
If you wish to discuss the value of your particular sexual abuse case in Kansas, contact DRZ Law for a free and confidential consultation. Our Kansas sexual abuse lawyers will give you an accurate estimate and let you know how we can maximize your financial recovery.