Written by: Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers
Last Updated : January 6, 2022
New Jersey Sex Abuse Attorneys
Trustworthy and compassionate counsel for adult and minor victims. Contact Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers today to discuss your case.
At Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers, our personal injury attorneys have built a strong reputation as determined advocates for victims of serious, catastrophic accidents and wrongful death. For decades, we have helped victims receive the compensation they deserve and the closure they need, so they can go on with their lives, albeit under very different circumstances. Yet, we understand that a tragic event that occurs due to negligence is substantially different from a deliberate assault from a predator abusing authority and trust. We know that victims of sexual assault can’t tell their story through accident reconstruction, X-rays, medical records, and diagnostics. Theirs is a story of innocence trampled, trust violated, dignity robbed, and personal autonomy overthrown. Their story requires more than aggressive advocacy; it demands compassion, understanding, patience, and sensitivity.
At Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers, we understand the process of seeking justice has to be different for victims of sexual assault. With professional skill and comprehensive strategy, our legal team helps you reclaim the power the assault took away, so you can finally put the past to rest and look towards the future.
Skilled representation for a variety of sexual abuse cases
Sexual abuse is a widespread societal problem. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 92 seconds, and every 9 minutes, the victim is a child. Each year, more than 320,000 people in the United States are sexually assaulted, and about 60,000 children are victims of “substantiated or indicated” sexual abuse. Meanwhile, the criminal justice system is making little impact on the problem, as only five out of every 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison.
On May, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that extended the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases. Under the new law, people now have until they turn 55 years old, or within seven years of the realization that their abuse caused harm, to file a claim of sexual abuse.
The new law will make it easier for people to seek damages from churches and other institutions that shielded abuse, but taking legal action can still be incredibly frightening for many sexual abuse victims. Even with the extended limitation periods, it can still be traumatic for victims of sexual abuse to consider confronting their assailants.
Sexual abuse takes place under a variety of circumstances and a wide range of places, such as:
- Religious organizations
- Date rapes
- Summer camps
- Businesses and nonprofits that cater to children
- Healthcare facilities
Such violations cry out for justice. Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers represents adults and minor victims, as well as adults who were abused as minors. We handle cases against individuals and organizations. However, our attorneys do not prosecute abuse cases against healthcare providers or medical facilities.
Capable management of legal issues related to sexual abuse cases
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you must have confidence in your legal counsel and the legal process. Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers attorneys are seasoned litigators with a long track record of success. We are adept at managing the complexities of civil litigation, including those related to sexual assault cases. Here are a few of the important legal issues that often arise in abuse cases:
- Burden of proof — A plaintiff in a civil lawsuit can prevail by proving the case by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lesser standard than a criminal trial, where a prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, if your assailant has already been found guilty of sexual assault, victory in a civil case is a virtual certainty. However, even if your abuser was found not guilty at trial, you could still win your case because of the lower burden of proof.
- Respondeat superior — This Latin phrase literally means, “Let the master answer.” It is an ancient legal concept that says an employer can be liable for the wrongful acts of an employee while on the job. This concept allows victims to sue school districts, religious organizations, etc. when their employees or members commit sexual abuse.
- Statute of limitations — The statute of limitations is the law that sets the time limit for bringing a legal action after an event has occurred. The usual statute of limitations for a personal injury, such as an assault, is two years from the date of the incident. Child victims have until the age of 20 to commence an action. However, the New Jersey legislature, recognizing the problems with a rigid statue for childhood sexual abuse, has amended the law. Child victims now have until they reach 55 years of age, but must still file within seven years of their realization that the abuse caused them harm. Victims who had been barred by the old statute of limitations may still have time to file their case.
Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers has decades of experience with personal injury litigation, and has recovered over $300 million for our clients throughout the years.
Edward P. Capozzi recovered at least one of the top 20 verdicts or settlements in New Jersey every year from 2012 to 2018. He also received the President’s Award from the New Jersey Association for Justice in 2015, and the Personal Injury Hall of Fame Award from the New Jersey Law Journal in 2014.
Keith J. Roberts serves on the New Jersey Insurance Commissioner’s Technical Advisory Committee on PIP (PIPTAC). He is also a member of the Health and Hospital Law Section of the New Jersey Bar Association, Bergen County Bar Association, New Jersey chapter of the American Trial Lawyers Association, and the Healthcare Compliance Association.
Charles X. Gormally is licensed in both New Jersey and New York. He was proud to serve as the mayor of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey in 2011 and 2012.
If you have any questions about the legal process or your rights in the matter, our knowledgeable attorneys are happy to provide answers at a free consultation.
Suing organizations in NJ for sexual abuse
As mentioned above, the concept of respondeat superior allows victims of abuse to sue organizations when an employee commits sexual abuse. The plaintiff must prove the organization is liable for any of these reasons:
- Negligent hiring of the abuser
- Negligent supervision of the abuser
- Ignoring or covering up the abuse
- Failing to have adequate policies in place to discourage abuse or assist victims
A major example of organizational liability is the priest abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. The problem has been shown to be so systemic over the past several decades that the Church has set up a fund to compensate people who were sexually abused by priests.
The New Jersey Compensation Fund for Victims of Church Sexual Abuse of Minors is charged with evaluating claims of abuse and negotiating settlements with victims. The NJ fund is the first statewide compensation program of its kind. A unique aspect of the fund is that none of the five dioceses in the state have any say in the settlements. However, each of the dioceses has agreed to release a list of all religious who have been credibly accused. An experienced attorney at our firm can represent your interests if you choose to make a claim for abuse by a priest or deacon.
Although the Catholic Church scandal has received a great deal of publicity, with New Jersey dioceses having paid out at least $50 million to victims in recent years, the problem of sexual abuse is by no means limited to the Church. Virtually every organization whose employees have access to children has been implicated at one time or another. This includes public and private schools, day care facilities, after school programs, the Boy Scouts and on and on. Unfortunately, the only way to rid society of this problem is to aggressively hold organizations accountable so they become more vigilant about protecting the public, especially children.