Depending on your situation, you might have grounds to sue your abuser for damages related to the trauma you suffered. If you reach a settlement agreement or a jury rules in your favor, you could recover compensation for your abuse.
Grand Rapids sexual abuse survivors who win their claim might receive compensation for:
- Costs for treatment with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health providers to help survivors cope with the emotional trauma of their abuse
- Costs for prescription medication often used to treat PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles related to sexual abuse
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium and other damage to personal relationships
We cannot guarantee a specific financial outcome for your Grand Rapids sexual abuse claim, but we aggressively pursue the maximum compensation available for your trauma. The emotional impact of sexual abuse can prevent survivors from working, impact their relationships, and cause them depression and anxiety.
Survivors should not have to carry the financial burden that comes in the aftermath of abuse. We are here to fight for sexual abuse survivors.
Reporting Sexual Abuse in Grand Rapids
If you have suffered sexual abuse or someone is currently abusing you, please speak with a trained professional. Grand Rapids has some local resources, but many survivors prefer the anonymity of a national resource. You can contact RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Line 24/7 at 800-656-HOPE (4673) and online at rainn.org. We can help you do this.
If you are in immediate danger or know someone who is, call 911. Grand Rapids emergency response teams can help.
You can report the sexual abuse of a child or adult to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services by calling their abuse and neglect hotline at 855-444-3911. The hotline is open 24 hours per day. Michigan, like other states, has strict reporting requirements for those who suspect or know of the sexual abuse of a child.
Medical professionals, teachers, law enforcement, members of the clergy, and many others must report sexual abuse. If you are unsure whether you need to report, one of our sexual abuse lawyers can advise you on the best course of action.
Clergy Abuse and the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids
In recent years, hundreds of survivors have come forward to report sexual abuse by priests, bishops, deacons, and other clergy members of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus far, plaintiffs have credibly accused, prosecuted, convicted, and/or sued 14 members of the clergy for sexual abuse in the Diocese of Grand Rapids. If a Catholic priest sexually abused you in Grand Rapids as a child, Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman PLLC can help you take action against your abuser and the church.
We understand that some survivors find it awkward to seek economic justice from their current or former religious community. We can counsel you and discuss the best way forward for your situation. It takes courage to come forward with your story, and we are by your side to help you through this difficult process. Many survivors find coming forward beneficial to their healing and overall mental health, but you also prevent future parishioners from falling victim to future abuse by clergy.
Statute of Limitations in Grand Rapids Sexual Abuse Claims
Some sexual abuse survivors find it difficult to come forward with their story, and others wrongly assume they have no recourse because their abuse occurred decades ago. Sexual abuse might be one incident, but in many cases, abusers groom and repeatedly touch, rape, or engage in other illegal sexual acts with a child.
Sexual abuse victims may suffer abuse for a few months or years during childhood. Fear of retaliation from their abuser keeps many children from speaking out. Also, some repress their memories and do not discover their abuse until much later in life and assume it’s too late to take action.
Fortunately, Michigan law provides a cushion in their statute of limitations to account for sexual abuse. In typical personal injury cases, people have three years to file a lawsuit against the person who harmed them.
In Michigan sexual abuse claims, survivors have until their 28th birthday to take civil action against their abuser. However, Michigan law has a three-year discovery rule for those who suffered abuse while they were a minor. Regardless of the age you learn or recall your abuse, you have three years to bring a lawsuit against your abuser.
Grand Rapids Sexual Abuse Claim FAQ
If you are a sexual abuse survivor and want to take legal action against your abuser, you might feel anxious and unsure about what to do next. You are not alone. The compassionate team at Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman PLLC is here to advocate for you as you move on with your life and work through your trauma. Until you can meet with one of our Grand Rapids sexual abuse lawyers, the answers to the following frequently asked questions provide some introductory information about sexual abuse claims.
What Is the Difference Between a Lawsuit and Criminal Charges for Sexual Abuse?
Criminal charges and civil lawsuits are different and independent paths to seeking justice after surviving sexual abuse. If you reported your sexual abuse to the Grand Rapids police or other law enforcement agency or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, you might have already started the criminal process.
If you have not filed any reports, the Kent County prosecutor might bring charges against your abuser after filing a civil lawsuit. Civil actions sometimes trigger criminal charges. However, it is not your choice to criminally charge your abuser. The prosecutor will listen to your story and decide whether to take action.
However, you have the choice to bring a civil lawsuit against your abuser, and the outcome of a criminal trial does not prevent you from taking action. Suing your abuser includes seeking compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damage you suffered because of their abuse. Jail time and fines are criminal trial outcomes and have nothing to do with your lawsuit. If you win your case, you could receive compensation from a settlement agreement or a jury award.
Do I Have to Go to Court for My Grand Rapids Sexual Abuse Claim?
Any time you bring a civil lawsuit against another party, you need to prepare for trial. However, these cases often do not make it to court because both sides reach a financial settlement. Ultimately, it will be your choice if you want your case to go to court. If you do decide to pursue a court case, we will do everything we can to prepare and protect you.
The team at Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman PLLC can review your claim, present you with any settlement offers, and advise you on the best course of action for your situation.
What Qualifies as Sexual Abuse?
Research shows that most survivors were sexually abused by someone they know, such as a friend of the family, coach, babysitter, or teacher. This sometimes makes it difficult for people, especially children, to understand they have been abused or assaulted. Sexual abuse falls under the broad umbrella of sexual violence with other sex crimes, such as sexual assault.
Examples of sexual abuse and assault include:
- Any sexual contact with a child’s body
- Forcing someone to engage in a sexual act
- Sexual acts with vulnerable adults who cannot give consent
- Inappropriate touching
- Exposing genitals to a child
- Creating or showing child pornography
- Incest and incestuous acts
- “Grooming” a teen or child
How Can I Protect My Privacy if I Bring a Sexual Abuse Claim?
If you choose to take legal action after surviving sexual abuse but are worried about protecting your privacy, we can help. It’s common for sexual abuse survivors to want to keep their names out of the media and away from public consumption. The law allows you to use a fictitious name, like John or Jane Doe, to protect your identity, even when filing a civil suit. However, your abuser and their legal team will know your true name.
What Is the Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse?
Sexual harassment is a type of sexual abuse. Someone who was sexually harassed was exposed to uninvited written or spoken statements about physical touching, arousal, or other sexual activity. State and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment. Perpetrators of sexual harassment face criminal charges and penalties and open themselves to civil lawsuits for damages from those they harass.
Can I Sue Those Who Enabled My Abuser?
Yes. Taking legal action after surviving sexual abuse often involves more than suing the abuser. If another person or organization’s negligence enabled your abuser, they could be liable for damages.
Examples of those who a Grand Rapids sexual abuse claim might hold liable include:
- Hospitals and nursing homes
- Schools and daycares
Your sexual abuse lawyer can review the facts of your claim to ensure you name all appropriate parties in your lawsuit.
Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman PLLC Fights for Grand Rapids Sexual Abuse Survivors
Sexual abuse claims are sensitive cases that require compassion, care, and concern for the survivor.
If you survived abuse, you do not have to seek justice alone. The legal team at Gruell Mills understands the impact of abuse, and we fight to help survivors hold their abusers accountable. We have decades of experience dealing with insurance companies and large legal teams. We know how to protect our clients from victim-blaming and other shameful defense tactics.
Let Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman PLLC investigate your claim, gather relevant documents and records, and talk to potential witnesses so that we can build the strongest possible case while protecting you as best we can.
Contact us today online or call us at (616) 235-5500 for a confidential case evaluation. You can discuss your abuse, how your trauma has affected your life, and find out how we can advocate for you and help you seek the justice you deserve.