Sexual abuse lawyers in Washington State often have the option of pursuing a civil case, criminal case, or both against the perpetrators of their abuse. In civil cases, our legal team often holds the abuser and any organization that failed to protect the survivor accountable. This is especially true in cases with childhood survivors of sexual abuse.
Our sex abuse attorneys answer many frequently asked questions (FAQs) about pursuing a civil case in Washington State in this article. If you have additional concerns, you can get answers during a free, confidential consultation.
What Are My Options for Holding My Abusers Accountable in Washington State?
There are often three ways to get justice for sexual assault survivors in Washington State. This could include pursuing a criminal case against the abuser, holding the abuser and others involved responsible in a civil case, or both.
Holding Liable Parties Responsible in a Civil Case
If you want to file a lawsuit based on the abuse you endured, you could speak with a Washington State sexual abuse lawyer from our team. We provide free, confidential, no-obligation consultations.
In a civil case, we can sue the abuser and any parties who allowed the assault to occur, failed to prevent it, or failed to uphold their obligation to protect the victim. Since perpetrators of assault rarely have the money to pay for survivors’ expenses and losses, these cases often focus on holding a larger organization, institution, or other party accountable. This could include a school, church, sports organization, or club.
Navigating the Criminal Justice System
To hold an abuser accountable, the criminal justice system may provide an opportunity. The abuser could face charges for sexual assault in addition to other charges if you were a child or teen when the abuse occurred.
It is more difficult to prove a criminal case unless it is reported quickly. Still, it can take years for a survivor to recognize what happened and feel empowered to come forward. Because of how ambiguous filing deadlines can get, many sexual assault survivors choose civil cases as a means of moving forward.
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How does Washington State Define Sexual Assault?
Sex abuse generally involves sexual assault. Washington State law defines sexual assault under WAC 478-121-150. Under this statute, sexual assault occurs when one party has sexual contact with another without that party’s full consent.
It is worth noting that some parties, including children and young teens, cannot consent to sexual activity.
Under this law, almost any unwanted touching could qualify as sexual assault, from fondling to rape. Abusers likely break additional laws when they commit sexual assault against a child or teen.
How Long do I Have to File a Civil Case Against Those Who Abused Me?
You may have options for seeking justice after enduring sexual abuse. Our attorneys aim to empower sexual abuse survivors by ensuring they understand their options based on their circumstances, when the abuse occurred, and other details of the case. While our attorneys handle civil cases, some survivors can pursue a criminal case, too.
Since 2019, there has been no deadline for prosecuting sexual abusers of children in criminal court. The statute of limitations for filing a criminal case based on a victim aged 16 or older is 20 years from the date the abuse last occurred.
The deadlines for filing civil cases are complex. Washington State has a stipulation that allows the countdown to begin when the victim discovers (or could reasonably discover) they suffered injuries because of the abuse they endured. Minors also have a limited time after discovering their injuries, but this countdown cannot begin before their 18th birthday, per RCW 4.16.340.
Over the last several years, there have been multiple attempts to remove the statute of limitations on child sex abuse civil cases, including under HB 1618 in 2023. So far, these efforts have been unsuccessful.
However, we often find that survivors have longer to sue than they think. Let our sex abuse attorneys review your case to determine your options.
How Can a Sex Abuse Attorney Help With My Washington State Case?
A Washington State personal injury attorney can weigh your options for how to proceed with your sex abuse case, including handling all aspects of a civil case against the perpetrator and those who failed to protect you from the sexual abuse. Lawyers often hold churches, schools, clubs, and other organizations legally liable for the sex abuse suffered by their clients.
When our client decides to move forward with their civil case based on the sexual abuse they endured, our Washington State attorneys handle all aspects of their claim or lawsuit on their behalf. We investigate what occurred and build a compelling case for justice. We also take several steps to seek a fair settlement agreement, including:
- Documenting recoverable damages, including mental anguish
- Calculating your losses
- Negotiating a fair settlement agreement when possible
- Preparing and filing a lawsuit in the appropriate civil court if necessary
- Handling continued negotiations
- Representing the client to the court
- Taking the case to trial if needed
- Upholding your legal rights
We can also answer your questions and help you understand your options for things like remaining anonymous (which may be possible) and avoiding testifying at trial. We understand the importance of this to some survivors and know how to navigate the process of protecting your identity during a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
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Discuss Your Options With Our Sex Abuse Attorneys Today
At Van Law, our sexual abuse lawyers represent survivors in Washington State. We provide free, confidential, no-obligation consultations that allow survivors to learn more about their options and decide whether they are ready to proceed. Our attorneys are here to help you get justice.
We work based on contingency fees, never asking our clients to pay upfront costs or a retainer. You only pay if we win your case.
Don’t wait too long to contact us. Even though the statute of limitations has been extended in some cases, your time to file is running out! Contact us now to get started with your initial consultation and explore taking legal action.
No obligation consultations are always free.Let Us Help You! Call Now: (725) 900-9000
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