Civil Claims for Sexual Abuse

If you have been sexually assaulted, whether as a child or as an adult, we at McAuley Hawach Lawyers have the experience and dedication to assist and support you with making a civil compensation claim.

Unfortunately, these types of assaults occur to many people and in many settings – whether it be at school, by members of institutions or departments, by a colleague, a treating practitioner, a family member or family friend. For many of our clients, successfully navigating a compensation claim has helped them with what can be a lengthy healing process.

If you were assaulted as a child, the laws have now changed to allow you to commence a compensation claim outside the usual three-year limitation period for personal injury claims. Specifically, on 17 March 2016 the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW) was amended to provide “that an action for damages that relates to the death of or personal injury to a person resulting from an act or omission that constitutes child abuse of the person may be brought at any time and is not subject to any limitation period under the Act”.

These law reforms also apply retrospectively to matters previously declined because they were made outside this limitation period. The Courts now understand the difficulties and trauma associated with recollecting these assaults, dealing with repressed memories and those who may be involved. We find that many cases settle out of court, so there is then no need for the victim to participate in a hearing at Court.

Further changes have been made by the NSW Government following the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Guiding principles have been introduced to ensure that NSW Government agencies take an empathetic and consistent approach in responding to civil claims for child abuse.

In October 2018, the NSW Parliament also passed legislation, being the Civil Liability Amendment (Organisational Child Abuse Liability) Act 2018 No 56 (NSW), which ensures survivors are able to sue a ‘proper defendant’ with adequate assets to satisfy a claim made. To assist with the prevention of abuse, the legislation established two statutory liabilities, being the reversal of the common law onus of proof in relation to organisational liability for child abuse and the extension of vicarious liability for child abuse to relationships ‘akin to employment’.

Should you satisfy the eligibility requirements, you may also be an entitled to receive a monetary payment form the National Redress Scheme run by the Commonwealth Government which commenced on 1 July 2018 and will continue for 10 years. The National Redress Scheme is in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Applications can be made any time before 30 June 2027. The Scheme allows for a monetary payment of up to $150,000, access to counselling and psychological support and a direct personal response from the participating institution should this be desired.

Access to the NSW Victims Support Scheme (‘VSS’) may be available should one choose not to apply for compensation in a civil case and in circumstances where a criminal compensation court order has not been made. If you have already received financial support from Victims Services, you may have to pay it back if you make a civil claim.

We have both female and male lawyers available to assist you. We also have the resources required to compete with large Insurers.

The medical practitioners we engage to assist with your claim are highly qualified and empathetic to your circumstances and may assist you to achieve the best possible outcome.

These types of assaults have made it difficult for many of our clients to live a normal everyday life. Personal Injury matters are therefore dealt with on a no win no fee basis and the first consultation is free. Everything that you discuss with us is kept confidential.

To have the best chance of successfully claiming against a perpetrator, we recommend that legal advice is sought as soon as possible.

Should you have any queries or should you wish to arrange an obligation free conference, please do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 9633 1826.

By Samantha Curro, Senior Associate
McAuley Hawach Lawyers
Level 7, 9 George Street, Parramatta NSW 2124
Telephone: (02) 9633 1826
Facsimile: (02) 9687 8114 (02) 9687 8114
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