The purpose of a civil claim is to seek recognition for survivors in the form of ‘damages’ or compensation for abuse suffered by them. This compensation attempts to put survivors in the financial position they would be had the abuse not occurred. Survivors have a right to pursue a civil claim, and the majority of successful claimants welcome the damages they receive. However, some survivors can be reluctant to pursue a claim, for a host of reasons including:
Editor's note: This post was originally written in August 2017, and has since been updated and republished for accuracy purposes.
The virtual world which most of us now inhabit on an almost 24 -7 basis has transformed our lives, introducing many benefits which have been positively life changing. According to an article by Finder, as of 2019, 79% of adults now own a smart phone. Also as of 2019, OFCOM reported that 9 in 10 5-15 year olds use any device to go online.
And, with The Guardian recently reporting that most children own a smartphone by the age of seven, it's clear that people of all ages have access to the online world.
Speaking out for the first time about childhood sexual abuse is hard enough. When a person who has been abused feels compelled to do something about it, it can be difficult to know where to start. All kinds of worries inhibit a person from coming forward. Fear is a huge factor - including a fear they will not be believed, a fear of retribution by their abuser, and a fear of what it might cost them, both emotionally and financially.
There can be no doubt that being bitten by a dog is a traumatic and frightening experience that can cause debilitating psychological and physical injuries. If you have been bitten/attacked by a dog and suffered injury then you may be able to make a claim for compensation. This compensation could cover any lost earnings if you’ve had time off work, the cost of any treatment as well as for the injury itself.
A victim of crime can make an application for compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) online, by telephone or post.
Information and assistance with this is often provided by agencies such as Victim Support or the police. It is not necessary to use a legal representative, although for more complex claims such as “out of time” child abuse applications applicants often prefer to use a solicitor.
Elton John’s classic ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’ is none more true in the ambit of sexual assault compensation claims than in any other context.
In representing victims and survivors of sexual assault, whether abused as children or sexually assaulted in adult life, I hear time and time again, the request for an apology. Often it is the refusal or the withholding of an apology that causes a victim or survivor to instigate a legal claim against those accountable. A lot of money could be saved by those on the receiving end of compensation claims arising from sexual assault, if only the relevant person or organisation had done the decent thing and offered a heartfelt apology in the first instance.
While no amount of money can compensate the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, an award of compensation represents important recognition that offences have been committed and harm has been caused.
A judge cannot force an apology and cannot turn back the clock, but the courts can make an organisation or person pay financially for sexual abuse.
Sadly, in some cases, a significant injury caused by negligence can result in the death of that individual.
Where the victim of a personal injury has died before their claim is settled it is still possible to continue the claim to benefit the claimant’s estate.
Last month, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein finally handed himself in to the New York authorities, charged with rape and several other counts of sexual abuse. He is the subject of multiple complaints by dozens of women ranging from rape to sexual harassment over many years.
Sexual abuse in childhood by a person in authority is the ultimate betrayal.
Where the abuser is acting in two capacities at the same time, a civil compensation claim may be directed against two organisations.