Choosing the right lawyer to represent you or a loved one in a sexual abuse case can be difficult. Because sexual abuse cases often result in large settlements or jury verdicts, there are many lawyers who advertise for these cases. However, just because a lawyer advertises for a certain type of case does not mean the lawyer is skilled or experienced in handling that type of case. In fact, there are no ethical rules which prohibit a lawyer from advertising that they handle sexual abuse cases even though they have never handled one before. Personal Injury and class actions lawyers often begin to advertise for these types of cases as soon as they read about them in the news. Their strategy sometimes is to sign up as many cases as possible and try to figure out how to the handle the cases, or else ship them off for a referral fee to a lawyer who focuses their practice on representing victims of sexual abuse.
You Don't Want a Personal Injury Attorney
Ask yourself this question. If you were going to hire a doctor to perform heart surgery would you want to hire a general surgeon or a cardiac surgeon? Sure, a general surgeon might be able to perform the procedure. In fact, the general surgeon may have successfully performed the procedure a few times throughout his career. However, this experience cannot compare to the cardiac surgeon who spends every day performing heart surgery. Handling a sexual abuse case is not like handling a car accident case or a slip and fall. Sexual abuse cases are far more complex and require an understanding of complicated liability issues and psychological damages that quite simply are not present in personal injury cases. There are lawyers whose entire practice is devoted to representing victims of sexual abuse, you just need to know how to find them.
What to Look for When Searching for a Sexual Abuse Attorney
The law firm's website is a great starting point. However, many firms will create landing pages to try to convince readers that they actually specialize in sexual abuse cases, when in fact it is only one of many different areas they practice. If you are uncertain if the firm really handles sexual abuse cases, do some more digging. Search Google for the lawyer or law firm you are considering and see if they have been in the news for cases representing victims of sexual abuse. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions. Specifically ask the lawyer how many victims of sexual abuse have they represented? What types of cases - church, school, day care, etc.?
Every lawyer wants to get you the largest settlement or jury verdict. The question is can they? Ask for the results the lawyer has received in similar cases, and not just how much money did you get for your clients. Many survivors want more than money - they want change and they want answers to questions, like how could something like this happen to me? Make sure you feel that this lawyer will go to bat for you not just to get you a check, but to get you justice.
Don't be Drawn in By Free Consultations or a Contingency Fee
It's not that free consultations and contingency fees are bad. The reality is that every lawyer who handles these types of cases will give you a free consultation and offer you a contingency fee. Additionally, every law firm should agree to front all of the costs of litigation and only seek reimbursement if the case is successful. If the lawyer you speak with does not, it is time to look for another lawyer.