A child who suffers emotional or physical abuse can endure both short- and long-term consequences, from injuries requiring medical care to lasting emotional and psychological trauma. In many cases child abuse is a crime. It can also be grounds for filing a civil lawsuit against the abuser to recover compensation for the child’s care.
The nature of a lawsuit filed against an alleged child abuser will depend on a range of factors. These will include:
- The identity of the abuser. Was the abuse by a parent or caregiver, or was the abuser someone outside the home?
- The nature and severity of the abuse (physical versus purely emotional abuse, sexual versus nonsexual abuse).
- The identity of the potential plaintiffs, which might include parents or legal guardians suing on behalf of their child, or the child suing directly.
A key question in any abuse trial will be the availability of physical evidence to prove that the abuse took place and that the defendant was responsible. In cases of physical abuse this might include testimony from medical professionals who treated the child immediately after abuse-related injuries. It might also include photographs and testimony from anyone who can confirm seeing visible signs of injury. Evidence of emotional abuse may have similar contours. In cases of emotional abuse, it can often be helpful to have evidence of the child’s psychological state before the abuse occurred as a way to show how much harm the abuse caused.
When a child has been abused it is often vitally important to take steps to prevent the abuse from happening again. Plaintiffs can seek protective orders to restrict the abuser’s access to the child, and should consider reporting the incident to law enforcement and the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services. Parents are sometimes reluctant to seek help through these official channels for a variety of reasons, including fears that a governmental agency may seek to take the abused child away from the home. An attorney can help parents resolve these questions.
The timing of a lawsuit that arises from child abuse is an important consideration for potential plaintiffs. Under Nevada law most types of personal injury cases must be filed with the court within two years of the injury. Nevada law provides an exception for plaintiffs who were minors at the time of the wrongful action. In such cases the two year period will only begin to run once the victim-plaintiff turns eighteen (in legal terms, the statute of limitations is “tolled” or paused). There is also a greater period of time granted for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Last year the Nevada legislature extended the statute of limitations for lawsuits arising from sexual abuse of a minor from ten to twenty years. NRS 11.215.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you or a loved one has suffered from child abuse and you would like to better understand your legal options, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.