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San Diego Child Abuse Attorneys

Survivors of child abuse perpetrated by organizations and institutions live with the scars of a profound trauma. Adults whom survivors and their parents trusted to lead scouting excursions, to minister to church youth groups, and to educate in public and private school settings instead betrayed them. The physical, emotional, and even spiritual pain of that child abuse can last well into adulthood.

California law gives survivors of child abuse legal rights to seek compensation from their abusers and, in many cases, from those who facilitated, enabled, or turned a blind eye to abuse. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, our children’s rights attorneys represent brave San Diego child abuse survivors who step forward to assert these legal rights. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

Our Child Abuse Injury Law Practice

Gomez Trial Attorneys represents clients who have sustained injuries and traumas because of someone else’s wrongdoing. Out of offices in San Diego, we regularly represent survivors of childhood abuse inflicted by adults in organizations and institutions entrusted with their care.

Our law practice pursues a singular mission of holding wrongdoers accountable for harming innocent victims. We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients, including a recent $1.25 million jury verdict in a case involving sexual assault at a school.

While each case is unique and past results are no guarantee of future outcomes, our attorneys recognize the immense strength and courage it takes to step forward seeking justice and accountability for abuse that occurred in childhood. We aim to provide our clients with sound, compassionate, straightforward legal advice to help them achieve their goals, and to pursue our clients’ chosen legal strategy with relentless determination.

The Tragic Toll of Child Abuse in California

Child abuse and neglect represent pervasive and persistent problems affecting some of California’s most vulnerable citizens. According to the Child Welfare League of America, every year, hundreds of thousands of cases of child abuse are referred to California local and state agencies for investigation. The vast majority of those involve neglect of children in at-home settings. However, every year hundreds, potentially thousands, of children in California also suffer physical and sexual abuse at the hands of adults entrusted with their care.

Child abuse inflicts severe long-term effects impacting virtually every aspect of a child’s life, often well into adulthood. According to the federal Children’s Bureau, survivors of child abuse suffer from:

  • Elevated rates of a wide variety of physical diseases and chronic health conditions;
  • Brain under-development;
  • Malnourishment;
  • Behavioral problems;
  • Emotional and mental health difficulties; and
  • Maladaptive and antisocial behaviors.

It is no exaggeration to say that abuse in childhood causes lasting challenges and difficulties that affect not just the abuse survivor, the survivor’s family and community as well. All of us suffer when a child suffers.

Legal Rights of Child Abuse Survivors in California

California survivors of child abuse have rights. They have the right to expect the state to prosecute the perpetrators of abuse, if possible. And they have the right to seek compensation from individuals, entities, and institutions whose actions carried out or contributed to the abuse they suffered. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we focus on helping survivors in the latter categories of cases.

Time Limits For Seeking Accountability and Compensation in California Courts

In the past, survivors of child abuse faced difficulty accessing the California court system to seek accountability and compensation for their past trauma. They would often find that by the time they were ready to confront their history of child abuse, the statute of limitations (or time limit for taking legal action) had long since expired. In effect, the doors to the courthouse had closed.

Fortunately, times have changed. Today, in California, survivors of child abuse have extended time periods in which to take legal action seeking accountability and compensation against their abusers and those who facilitated or enabled abuse.

  • Survivors of childhood physical abuse have two years from the date of their 18th birthdays, in most cases, to take legal action; and
  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse, under a new California law, can bring a legal action “within 22 years of the date the [survivor] attains the age of majority or within five years of the date the [survivor] discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual assault, whichever period expires later.” In addition, any survivor of childhood sexual abuse in California has a “window” of time to bring a claim for damages—no matter how long ago the sexual abuse occurred—that will stay open until December 31, 2022

Thus, for claims involving child sexual abuse, in particular, the next several years represent a singular opportunity for survivors to seek accountability and compensation in California courts from their abusers, as well as anyone who enabled or facilitated abuse. No matter how long ago child abuse you suffered occurred, speak with an experienced San Diego child abuse injury attorney today to learn about your rights.

Legal Liability for Child Abuse in California

One job of an experienced San Diego child abuse injury attorney is to work with the abuse-survivor client to identify all persons, entities, or institutions that may have legal liability for the abuse. As a general matter, the more parties with potential legal liability, the better the survivor’s chances of recovering maximum compensation.

Possible parties from whom a survivor may recover compensation include:

  • Individual abusers;
  • Adults who knew of abuse and failed to take steps to prevent it;
  • Institutions, such as schools or churches that employed abusers or covered-up abuse; and
  • Organizations, such as scouting or youth sports associations, that employed abusers or allowed abusers to volunteer, or covered-up abuse.

Every case of child abuse is different, and there is never a guarantee of being able to recover damages from all, or any, of the individuals or entities listed above. However, abuse survivors should understand that even if their abuser and an abuser’s enablers were never prosecuted for their crimes, survivors may still have the ability to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit in California courts. Prosecutors have a much higher burden of proof to meet in proving a crime than do lawyers who represent survivors in civil lawsuits. Even if a prosecutor has told you that your abuser cannot be held criminally responsible, you may still be able to hold your abuser and others accountable in civil court.

Damages and Other Remedies for Child Abuse in California

In a legal action seeking compensation for the harm inflicted by child abuse, the survivor may obtain payment for a wide variety of damages. These include:

  • Medical costs associated with the impact of child abuse, including the cost of mental health services;
  • Pain and suffering damages to compensate for the negative impact of child abuse on the survivor’s wellbeing, including physical pain and mental anguish the survivor suffered;
  • Loss of life enjoyment/damage to personal relationships inflicted by the history of child abuse; and
  • Punitive damages to the extent allowed under California law. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, in particular, may seek to recover treble damages (three times the survivor’s other damages) from any individual or institution that covered up the abuse.

The amount of compensation a survivor of child abuse may recover will vary widely from case-to-case, depending upon factors that include the nature of the abuse, the extent of any cover-up of the abuse, and the financial resources of the individual, organization, or institution that has legal liability for the abuse under California law. Speak with our experienced San Diego child abuse attorneys to determine your potential prospects for recovering compensation.

Finally, survivors of abuse may also have the ability to seek non-monetary relief in a lawsuit in California courts. For example, in certain cases courts in California have the power to order entities to make changes to their practices and procedures to reduce the probability of child abuse occurring in the future. An attorney can help you understand whether you have the option of seeking this kind of remedy in a lawsuit against an abuser or abuse-enabler.

How a Lawyer Can Help Seek Accountability for Child Abuse

Numerous organizations and agencies throughout California serve the interests of survivors of child abuse, offering support and resources to help survivors confront and address their histories of trauma. Where does Gomez Trial Attorneys fit into that network of advocates? Here is an overview.

We Work With Survivors to Identify and Prove Legal Liability for Abuse

Like many types of advocates, our work with survivors focuses on the facts and circumstances of the abuse the survivor endured during childhood. However, though we are a team of compassionate, caring professionals, our services do not focus on providing therapeutic support. Instead, our focus is on evaluating a survivor’s history of child abuse to identify the individuals, entities, and institutions that may face legal liability under California law for the harm caused by that abuse.

Make no mistake, our job is to serve our clients’ interests only. We remain ever-mindful, however, that in exploring the facts and circumstances of a history of abuse, we must take care not to re-traumatize our clients. That is why we frequently advise our abuse-survivor clients to make sure they have a strong emotional and mental health support system in place before proceeding with any sort of legal action. We may even work in tandem with the mental health professionals who counsel our clients, to help our clients tell us about their histories of abuse without enduring unnecessary additional trauma.

We Negotiate With Parties and Their Insurers in Seeking Accountability and Fair Settlements

Attorney John Gomez

John Gomez, Child Abuse Lawyer

Our clients always control when and how we proceed with taking action on their behalf. In many cases, clients will authorize us to enter into negotiations with defense attorneys and insurance companies to seek a resolution of a child abuse claim. Every negotiation proceeds on the basis of a client’s priorities. Some clients will want us to focus on seeking some form of accountability from the liable parties. Others will want us to work toward achieving a maximum financial settlement. Many want us to accomplish both. We follow their lead.

As a skilled team of negotiators, the lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have the resources and know-how to represent an abuse survivor’s interests with an appropriate balance of discretion and determination. We recognize how critical it is for our clients to understand they remain in control of how a case proceeds, and we tailor our approach to negotiations to match their priorities.

That may mean working toward a low-profile settlement for a client who wants to keep the abuse private, while using the prospect of legal action to create a platform for a different client who wishes to call out abusers and abuse-enablers publicly. We encourage clients to speak with us about their hopes and goals in taking legal action.

When Necessary, We Litigate in California Courts

When our client chooses to proceed with filing a legal action in California courts, we work diligently to present a strong, clear case for liability and damages to San Diego judges and juries. Child abuse cases may generate public attention, and our team always prepares for that eventuality—but, again, using our clients’ priorities as our sole guiding principles. We take pride in our skills as trial lawyers, and have a reputation as fierce, fair, dedicated advocates for our clients in and out of the courtroom.

Call Our San Diego Attorneys for Child Abuse Survivors

California law makes it possible for survivors of child abuse to seek justice, accountability, and compensation from their abusers and from persons or entities who facilitated, enabled, turned a blind eye to, or covered up that abuse. The compassionate, dedicated lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have the resources and experience to help survivors achieve those ends. Contact us today online or by calling our San Diego office at (619) 237-3490 to receive a free, confidential, no-obligation case evaluation from a lawyer who cares about you.


Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619)-237-3490

 

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