As a solicitor specialising in abuse claims, it is always satisfying when a settlement is reached, and a person who has suffered from abuse, and indeed the consequences it bears on the rest of their life, receives compensation for their trauma. Whilst damages never truly compensates for what the victim has been through, it always gives the victims some satisfaction and can often help to pay for specialist treatment for any ongoing psychiatric problems.
I have settled two cases this week which gave me and the clients particular satisfaction. These were cases where the damages were paid by the abuser rather than any institution, both involving significant damages.
Often, the abuse claims that we handle involve some negligence on the part of an organisation, and it is this third party that is claimed against for the compensation. For example, this week I have dealt with various claims against local Education Authorities, local Social Services Departments, churches and the Police. In the majority of cases these payments are made by insurers or local councils.
The two cases referred to above have therefore been particularly interesting to pursue. Where a client has been the victim of historic abuse it is particularly satisfying for them to not only win the claim but to have the damages paid to them directly by the person who abused them rather than by any employer or other institution.
I regularly speak with my opposing Solicitors on abuse cases and there is an increase in trend to make the abuser pay. The Defendants I talk to who are often representing local councils indicate that there is now far more appetite to seek payment of the damages from the abuser personally. Even if my client is therefore compensated by the Local Authority, the Local Authority will then pursue the abuser personally to contribute to the damages and costs.
Just because the abuse happened decades ago and the abuser has been punished by the criminal courts it does not mean that the victim cannot bring a civil action and often, it is the case that by the time a civil action is commenced, the abuser has amassed assets he or she would not have had at the time; for example a house, job and pension.
If you were the victim of abuse therefore you should not only think about suing the church or Local Authority who employed the abuser, but you should also think about an action against the abuser in person. Making the abuser pay for their actions in one way or another is often a key driver for abuse victims, who want to see a consequence brought against the perpetrator for their actions.
To discuss making a compensation claim for abuse, whether against an individual, an authority, please contact us for a free discussion. Our team of lawyers who specialise in this area have a great deal of experience and will be able to provide you with information about your options.