Survivors in Transition and Gotelee Solicitors
Gotelee Solicitors are a Suffolk based firm of solicitors with their head office located in Ipswich and have a specialist team of lawyers dealing in the difficult and often traumatic area of claiming abuse compensation on behalf of people who have suffered sexual abuse.
Survivors in Transition and Gotelee Solicitors have come together in partnership to help survivors who may wish to pursue a legal claim for compensation in respect of the abuse they suffered and here you will find information about the legal options for survivors of sexual abuse.
If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual abuse and wish to make a claim for compensation then it is important that you contact a solicitor and seek legal advice as soon as possible. Survivors in Transition can put you in touch with the specialist lawyers at Gotelee Solicitors who will happily have a free no obligation, confidential discussion with you about your options.
It is very difficult for survivors of abuse to approach a solicitor and to reveal the full details of their case to someone that they have not met before. Gotelee Solicitors through their experience try to make the process as easy as possible and are committed to helping survivors obtain the justice and compensation to which they are entitled through the legal process.
Gotelee Solicitors are members of Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL) and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and have a team of experts, including doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists and specialist barristers to ensure that your sexual abuse compensation claim has the very best support.
Victims of sexual abuse often believe that they are not entitled to compensation if the abuse happened many years ago. It is important to understand that this is not correct and it is indeed possible to be successful in obtaining justice and compensation for survivors of historic sex abuse.
It is useful to have an understanding of what might be involved if you were to bring a claim for compensation for sexual abuse. There are two routes that may be available, the first is bringing a civil claim, the second is making an application for criminal injury compensation from the State to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (CICA).
The following question and answer guide is a summary of the many questions survivors ask about the legal process and hopefully this will answer any questions and concerns you may have.
What is involved in claiming compensation?
Legal claims relating to sexual abuse are by their very nature complicated and often legal difficulties can arise, especially where the claim concerns historical abuse, however these problems can potentially be overcome.
After a solicitor has taken as much information as possible from a client the first issue will be to establish who, or what is the Defendant in the case. This can be an individual, or as often is the case it is a local authority, a charity or institution for which the abuser worked at the time of the abuse. A claim would usually be made on the basis that the body responsible failed in their legal duty to adequately and properly look after the child, or adult in their care and thereby allowed the abuser to abuse the individual.
Additionally compensation claims can be brought against individuals who have perpetrated acts of abuse for example, where the abuse may have occurred outside of an institutional setting, perhaps in the family home. In such cases a determining factor in whether the claim should be brought is whether the individual has the resources to pay an award of compensation and legal costs. If this is not possible then it may be more appropriate to pursue an application with the Criminal Injuries Compensation.
The solicitor will try to obtain as much evidence as possible to help to prove the claim and arrange the help of medical experts in order that the value of the claim can be assessed.
When the solicitor is satisfied that there is what is called a reasonable prospect of success then they will launch the claim against the Defendant by sending a letter of claim. This is then usually passed on to the Defendant’s insurance company who will investigate the claim under a strict legal protocol.
Often a case may proceed to settlement directly with the insurance company through negotiation, however if this is not possible then court proceedings will be issued in the county or high court. Usually the majority of claims issued in the court will settle out of court or in the process leading to trial and only a very small percentage of any cases issued actually proceed to a trial.
Are there any potential problems or pitfalls?
Unfortunately not every legal claim for compensation will be successful and there are many legal reasons why this is the case.
By their very nature historical child sexual abuse happened many years ago, often several decades ago. The passage of time creates problems because of a legal concept known as Limitation in which a personal injury claim for compensation must be brought within three years of the date of the injury, or the date of knowledge of the person injured.
The court does have discretion to allow a person to bring a claim for compensation even though the claim might ordinarily be outside of the legal time limits and there have been a number of leading historical sexual abuse cases which have paved the way to make it easier for judges to exercise their discretion.
Can I claim compensation if my abuser is dead?
If your abuser is dead then it can make the legal process more difficult because of the problems in being able to gather evidence and for the Court to be satisfied that there has been a fair trial.
However, if the abuser was convicted of the crime before he died, or there have been a number of similar cases against the dead abuser which have succeeded then many of the obstacles that may exist become less problematical.
How much money will I receive if my claim is successful?
A claim for sexual abuse is a type of personal injury and the law awards damages for physical or psychological harm. The amount of compensation you will be receive depends on a number of different factors including how the abuse and your injury has affected your life, both in personal terms and your ability to work. It is possible that you may need to undergo future treatment or therapy to help you with your psychological injury. Quantifying a claim is not straight forward and there are many factors that need to be considered.
In order to help assess the claim your solicitor will instruct a medical expert to provide an independent expert opinion to show how you have been affected by the abuse that you suffered. Often a solicitor will also instruct an expert barrister for an independent opinion in relation to the value of the case so as to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation.
How long will it take?
Bringing a claim for compensation in the civil court process can unfortunately take a very long time, particularly where complex issues or facts are involved as is often the case in sexual abuse actions. This is particularly so in historical sexual abuse cases where the allegations of abuse relate to events from many years ago and which involve obtaining and reviewing many documents.
It is possible that a claim may take from 18 months to 3 years to complete, however every claim is different and much depends upon the evidence obtained and the approach of the Defendant or its insurance company.
An application to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority will usually be dealt with more quickly than a civil claim.