Child Care Sexual Abuse Lawyers in Pennsylvania
Child care sexual abuse occurs in various settings including: daycares, summer camps, babysitters, and other providers. Parents should have peace of mind that their children will be safe. The sad reality, however, is that child sex abuse occurs in childcare settings.
Background checks, proper supervision, and complete child protection policies can prevent child care sexual abuse by babysitters in daycares, summer camps, and foster homes. Sometimes, this fails to happen, putting children at risk.
Daycare Sexual Abuse
Children are sadly vulnerable to sexual abuse at daycare. Thus, are at risk of sexual abuse by a daycare employee or another child. We have experience handling cases against daycares.
Babysitter Sexual Abuse
Children are sometimes sexually abused by their babysitter, or while a babysitter should supervise them. In either case, you may have a legal claim if you or your child were sexually abused while under the supervision of a babysitter.
Foster Care Sexual Abuse
Foster care is an attempt to protect the most vulnerable children: those forced to grow up without the love and care of their natural parents. So, it is alarming when foster care places them in the path of further harm. Foster care child abuse in Pennsylvania is, unfortunately, more common than anyone would like to admit. Much of it goes unreported.
Summer Camp Sexual Abuse
Summer camps should be safe places for children to enjoy, where parents can trust their kids will be safe from child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, children are sexually abused at summer camps by staff, volunteers, or other children. We have experience handling cases against summer camps for failures to protect children from sexual abuse.
Helping Victims and Their Families Seek Justice
Many parents resort to nannies, babysitters, and daycare centers to take care of their children while they are at work or tending to other responsibilities. Unfortunately, many childcare centers and individuals who offer babysitting services may put children at risk of sexual abuse. The attorneys at Andreozzi + Foote go over what parents can do if their child has been a victim of child care sexual abuse and how an attorney can help them seek justice on behalf of their abused child.
What Should Parents Do if Their Child Was a Victim of Child Care Sexual Abuse?
If a parent has reasons to believe their child has been a victim of sexual abuse, they should take action as soon as possible. If the accused party is an individual such as a daycare worker, a nanny, or a babysitter, for example, parents may contact local law enforcement and may also call the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. This service is free and available 24/7. If the abuse occurred at a child care center, the parent should also notify the party responsible for managing it.
In addition, parents should also consider speaking with a skilled sexual abuse attorney about filing a civil lawsuit against the business or individual. Filing a civil lawsuit is the only way to receive damages compensation and hold the at-fault party financially responsible for their actions.
What Is the Difference Between a Civil and a Criminal Child Sexual Abuse Case?
The difference between a civil and a criminal child sexual abuse case is that a criminal case is prosecuted by the government, while a civil case is brought by the victim or the victim’s family. In a criminal case, the accused person is charged with a crime. If convicted, the defendant may face fines and jail time. However, criminal cases rarely result in any type of restitution for the victims.
This is when filing a civil case may be an option. In a civil case, the accused person is sued for monetary damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. A civil lawsuit is based on negligence. In the case of a child care sexual abuse victim, the lawsuit may claim that the caretaker or institution was negligent because they owed the child and the child’s parents a duty of care to look after the child’s safety and well-being, and said duty was breached, resulting in the child being sexually abused by a person who was supposed to be looking after them. The breach of duty of care is the direct cause of the damages sustained by the child, and thus, the child is entitled to receive compensation for these damages.
A civil court cannot typically punish a defendant with jail time or criminal sentences but can order the payment of punitive damages in cases where the defendant acted with gross negligence. Punitive damages are meant to serve as a punishment for the defendant’s actions and also a way of stopping similar behavior from happening again in the future. It is worth mentioning that filing a civil lawsuit does not affect a criminal case, and it is possible for a defendant to be facing criminal charges and a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse at the same time.
What Kind of Damages Can a Child Sexual Abuse Victim Recover?
In a civil lawsuit, a child sexual abuse victim may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Economic damages may include medical expenses, the costs of medical treatments, counseling, and any other financial losses resulting from the abuse.
Pain and suffering are the main components of non-economic damages, which are meant to compensate the victim for the physical and emotional pain resulting from the abuse, as well as the negative impacts the abuse may have had on the victim, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to standard damages, the victim may be eligible for punitive damages, as mentioned previously. Punitive damages are generally only awarded in cases of gross negligence. Be sure to consult an attorney to discuss your case and determine what type of damages you may be entitled to receive.
Are Child Care Sexual Abuse Cases Subject to a Statute of Limitations?
Another reason to take prompt action and file a claim against the perpetrator or business responsible for childcare sexual abuse is that many states have a statute of limitations that affects the victim’s ability to file a claim after too much time has passed. A statute of limitations is a legal deadline that determines how long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit seeking damages compensation from a defendant who may have harmed them. If the statute of limitations for a certain case expires, the plaintiff or victim may be barred from seeking compensation.
In Pennsylvania, the status of limitations for filing child sexual abuse claims changed in 2019. Before that, child victims only had until their 30th birthday to take action. Now, plaintiffs who are abused as a child have until their 55th birthday to take legal action. The new law is more favorable to victims as it better reflects the fact that many children who are abused by their caretaker may be fearful of talking about it, and in many cases, sexual abuse victims may take many years to feel comfortable filing a lawsuit against their abuser.
Can I Sue a Daycare Center for Child Sexual Abuse by an Employee?
In some cases, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly who was responsible for sexually abusing a child, especially when the child is too young and unable or unwilling to identify their abuser. If the abuse happened at a daycare center, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against that daycare center seeking damages compensation for their negligence.
This is because a daycare center has the duty of protecting and looking after the well-being of the children under the care of its employees. That means it is their responsibility to hire and properly screen professionals who are well-trained and have clean criminal records. This applies to everyone – from teachers and aides to support staff such as cooks, janitorial staff, and administrative employees.
Unfortunately, many daycare providers have trouble finding and retaining qualified staff, struggling with high turnover due to a heavy workload and low pay. This can create the perfect situation for a predator to have unlimited access to young children as daycare centers continue to desperately need staff members and may cut corners in the hiring process.
If a child ends up being abused by an employee who was allowed to have unsupervised access to minors in spite of having a criminal background or being involved in previous child abuse complaints, the daycare could be considered liable for damages. Their negligent hiring practices ultimately resulted in a child being hurt and traumatized, and thus, the child and the child’s family may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the daycare center. In some cases, the civil lawsuit can be accompanied by criminal charges if the case is also reported to local law enforcement authorities.
Why Should You Hire an Attorney for Your Case?
Whether you were abused as a child by a babysitter or by someone at a daycare center or you are a parent who has recently discovered your child may have been a victim of child care sexual abuse, chances are you are feeling confused, overwhelmed and struggling with many different emotions that make it difficult for you to understand your legal options and the laws affecting your case.
At Andreozzi + Foote, sexual abuse civil cases are our primary focus. We are passionate about representing victims and helping them stand up for their rights. We know the laws, and we know the steps required to build a strong case on your behalf. We can assist you with the process of investigating the case, pinpointing the responsible party or parties, and holding the perpetrator or the institution financially liable for what happened.
While we know no amount of compensation can undo the trauma and lifelong effects of child sexual abuse, we can help you exercise your legal rights as a victim and ensure your voice is heard. If you would like to learn more about your legal options as a victim or the parent of a victim of child care sexual abuse, contact Andreozzi + Foote for a confidential case analysis at 866-311-8640.