I was sexually abused in an institution as a child. What can I do?
Don’t negotiate with the institution without talking to a lawyer first. Even if the person talking to you is very nice, their job is to pay you as little as possible.
Get proper legal advice about your options.
Your lawyer will be able to tell you whether you can bring a civil case (ie: sue the institution, financially the best usually), or need to go through one of the alternative schemes like Redress or Victims of Crime.
How do I choose a lawyer?
Remember, your lawyer works for you, not the other way around! Satisfy yourself that your lawyers:
– Have trial experience in abuse cases. That does not mean you have to go to trial. But it’s important that your lawyers know how take a case to Court if they need to. If your lawyer has never taken a case to trial, will the Institution/Defendant be sufficiently worried to pay properly?
– Won’t charge too much. Talk to your lawyers about what limit they offer on fees and costs, so that you know that the compensation will mostly end up where it belongs – with you.
– Are easy to reach and give you straight answers about your case. Bringing a compensation case about your experience of child abuse can be challenging. You need a lawyer who understands that and communicates clearly and thoughtfully.
– Is willing to fight hard for what your claim is worth.
I signed an agreement years ago in exchange for a small sum of compensation. Can I bring a case today?
Yes, in lot of circumstances you can. Rightside Legal is the first law firm to get court decisions in Victorian and Western Australia knocking down old, unfair child abuse settlements. So talk to a lawyer about your options, and make sure they have real court experience in getting rid of old deeds.
How much will it cost to bring a legal case?
Ask your lawyer to confirm that they will work for you on a capped or limited fee agreement, so that you know the fees you pay at the end of your case will not consume too much of your settlement or verdict.
The abuse impacted my education and work life. Can I claim for this?
Yes. If your lawyer can show that you have earned less overall because of the abuse, then you should include this in your compensation case. Talk to your lawyer about their experience in claiming and winning economic loss claims.
What is the National Redress Scheme?
The National Redress Scheme was set up by the government following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse . It offers limited compensation to survivors.
Only apply to the Redress Scheme if you’ve been told by a lawyer (with real sexual abuse litigation experience) that you cannot sue over the abuse you experienced.
If you have already applied and are not sure if you’ve done the right thing, speak to a lawyer quickly to find out if you should withdraw the application or get extra time to consider any offer made to you
Should I apply to the National Redress Scheme?
No. Unless you have been told by a lawyers who has real experience in sexual abuse claims that you cannot do a civil case, do not apply to Redress.
Redress is a good backup if a civil case is impossible.
But the compensation you receive through Redress is likely to be a much smaller sum that you would receive if you brought a civil claim, so always talk to a lawyer first.
And remember, if you accept Redress compensation, you permanently give up your rights to bring a civil claim (ie: sue over the abuse).
You may be giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars when you accept Redress. So get advice first.