If you were the victim of child abuse and need help finding out whether you could be entitled to compensation, you should contact a solicitor for legal advice. There are many forms of child abuse and if you are finding it hard to cope with life or you find it impossible to hold down a job, claiming child abuse compensation can help with financial worries and other concerns that can negatively impact your life.
To find out more information about child abuse compensation and legal advice that can be provided from a solicitor, please read on.
The Definition of Child Abuse
Although no clear definition exists in legal terms for “child abuse”, there are specific laws in the UK that protect children from being harmed. There are local authorities as well as other agencies and organisations that have a legal duty to protect children they come into contact with should the following apply to the children:
- They are under the age of 18
- They are suffering or may suffer significant harm
When it comes to “harm” to a child, it refers to a child being ill-treated or damage is done to their health and/or development. Examples of child abuse which would harm a child and which would therefore, mean they would be in need of protection includes the following:
- Being neglected – this refers to when a child’s basic needs both physical and/or psychological are not met. Neglect may occur during a pregnancy when a mother is involved in substance abuse. It can also occur when a father is violent towards a mother during her pregnancy. Once a baby is born, the neglect may happen because they are not provided with enough food, shelter or clothing. It can also involve a failure to protect a child from emotional and physical harm and/or danger. Neglect can occur because a child is not supervised correctly or a child is not given adequate medical care. The neglect may be unintentional or intentional
- Suffering a physical injury – this includes being threatened with injury as well as hitting and shaking a child
- Suffering emotional abuse – when the treatment of child causes them serious damage to their emotional development. This could be putting a child through unjust and constant punishments, telling a child they are worthless, not letting a child express themselves, not giving a child any affection, allowing a child to be a witness to the ill-treatment of another person, bullying a child which includes on the internet. Emotional abuse can be done to a child intentionally or unintentionally
- Sexual abuse – is when a child is forced to take part in any sort of sexual activity whether they are aware of what is happening to them or not. Sexual child abuse could involve physical contact, non-physical contact, grooming a child both in person and online, forcing a child into prostitution and female genital mutilation
- Domestic abuse – this is when a child is forced to see or hear domestic violence or abuse between parents in the home
What Are the Effects of Having Suffered Child Abuse?
There are short-term and long-term effects of child abuse that negatively impacts the health and well-being of a child later on in their lives. It could lead to physical and mental health issues which could include the following:
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- An inability to trust other people which makes it hard for abused children to form any kind of healthy relationship as an adult
Should you have been the victim of child abuse, you could be entitled to seek compensation should the following apply to you:
- You are still a child
- You are an adult who was the victim of child abuse
If you are unsure on how to proceed, you could contact a solicitor who can offer vital advice on what evidence you would need to ensure your child abuse claim is upheld.
What Can I Include in a Child Abuse Claim?
When making a child abuse claim, there are specific things that can be included which are detailed below:
- If you have suffered any sort of psychological issue due to the fact you were abused and therefore find it hard to hold down a job, you may be entitled to claim loss of earnings
- If you had to pay for private therapy and/or counselling, you can claim the amount when claiming child abuse compensation
With this said, there are various ways you can claim compensation which are detailed below:
- You can claim child abuse compensation by suing your abuser or an organisation/company/business that failed in their legal duty to make sure you were kept safe from harm while in their employment
- You can file a criminal injuries claim through the CICA
If you decide to sue your abuser, you would also be entitled to apply for a court order preventing them from interfering or molesting you again which would form part of your court action against your abuser.
If you are still a minor under the age of 18, you are still entitled to sue your abuser but it would be necessary for an adult who is referred to as your “litigation friend” to act on your behalf. It is also worth noting that to successfully sue your abuser, less proof would be required than in a criminal case. With this said, it is best to seek advice from a solicitor before commencing any action against your abuser. The reason being that you may find that the solicitor you contact would offer you No Win No Fee terms when representing you in a child abuse claim for compensation.
What About Time Limits to Filing a Child Abuse Claim?
You would have to file your civil court action against your abuser within the time limit associated with child abuse claims. The deadline, however, varies depending on the sort of legal action you decide to take and in exceptional circumstances the time limit can be extended.
Should I Take Out a Civil Action Against My Abuser?
As previously mentioned, you could take out court action against your abuser but you could also file a criminal injuries claim. With this said, if your abuser does not have the money to pay the compensation a court rules they must pay, you may not ever receive the money you were awarded. However, it may still be worth your while making a civil suit against your abuser for the following reasons:
- Should the court find that your abuser is liable for the child abuse you were subjected to, it means that there is public recognition of their abusive behaviour
- Should your abuser have money later on in time, they would still be obliged to pay you the compensation a court had awarded you because there would be an court order against your abuser
It is worth noting that on the downside to suing your abuser through a civil action is as follows:
- The case could take a long time to be heard and predicting the outcome of the action is never possible
- Should your abuser be found liable, it does not mean they would not be able to abuse others in the future. The reason being that a civil matter would not result in your abuser being sent to prison or from being able to have contact with other children
- You may also have to attend court in order to give evidence. This typically involves doing so in a public session but you can request that your case be heard in private which a solicitor would do on your behalf
When suing an abuser, you have the right to remain anonymous which means you cannot be named or identified by the media.
Should I Sue an Organisation For Child Abuse?
You could choose to sue your local authority if you can show they failed in their duty of care to ensure you were kept safe from harm as a minor. An example of this would be as follows:
- A report of child abuse was sent to the “child protection team” but no action was taken and any allegations were not taken seriously or investigated further
What Level of Child Abuse Compensation Would I Get If My Abuser is Convicted of a Criminal Offence?
Should your abuser have been convicted of a criminal offence, a court may rule that criminal compensation be awarded to you. This means that a court would decide if your abuser must pay which would depend on the state of the finances. You would not be able to apply for the compensation yourself and as such, it is essential that the prosecution be given a full and accurate account of both the injuries you suffered and the losses you incurred so these can be presented to the court.
With this in mind, the level of compensation a court may award you in a child abuse claim would be based on how much your abuser can afford with the maximum being set at £5,000. It is also the responsibility of the court to ensure that your abuser pays the amount they are ordered to pay you.
Seeking Child Abuse Compensation Through the Criminal Injuries Scheme
Should you have suffered physical or mental injuries as a consequence of being the victim of child abuse, it could entitle you to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Scheme. Your abuser would not need to have been convicted of the crime against or even charged for you to apply for compensation from the CICA.
The time limit to file a CICA claim would be within 2 years of the crime having been committed against you. The deadline may be extended should exceptional circumstances apply to your situation more especially as you were the victim of child abuse. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority would investigate past records held by the local authority more especially if the crime has not been reported to the Police at the time you were subjected to child abuse.
Because child abuse claims made through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority tend to be complex legal procedures where rules and criteria must be respected, it is better to seek advice from a solicitor. The reason being that solicitors have the necessary legal expertise required to handle CICA claims.
Another advantage of having legal representation when filing a child abuse claim through the CICA is that a solicitor once satisfied that you have sufficient evidence to back up your claim against your abuser, they would offer you No Win No Fee terms taking all the worry of how to pay for costly legal representation off the table. Solicitors also know that this type of claim can be extremely difficult to start and have the required experience of dealing with your case with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality.
If you were the victim of child abuse and would like to talk to someone who understands what you are going through, the following link takes you to the Victims Support website:
To find out more information about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and what evidence is required to file a child abuse claim through the Scheme, please click on the link provided below: