In order to protect people, the brain typically locks away traumatic memories, such as sexual abuse memories. However, researchers have recently discovered how to effectively retrieve these repressed memories.
This scientific procedure makes recovered memory claims much more credible in court. Many jurors harbor a belief that recovered memories are at least partially fabricated. Now, that’s clearly not the case.
So, even if the abuse occurred several decades ago, a Kansas City personal injury attorney might still be able to obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation does not reverse the effects of the sexual abuse. But it does bring the wrongful conduct to light and help these victims, and their families, move on in life.
The Discovery Rule
Generally, the statute of limitations in personal injury cases is two years. If victims do not bring legal claims before the statute of limitations expires, they usually lose the right to obtain compensation for their injuries.
The statute of limitations protects both victims and tortfeasors (negligent actors). Evidence degrades and disappears over time, so it is difficult to prove claims in court after two years elapse. Furthermore, tortfeasors need not spend years looking over their shoulders.
The statute makes sense in many cases, but not in this context. Frequently, victims do not know about the possibility of a legal claim until their memories are at least partially recovered. The discovery rule usually applies in these situations. Victims are not obliged to file legal claims until:
- They know the full extent of their injuries, which in this case is a psychological injury, and
- They connect those injuries to the tortfeasor’s conduct or misconduct.
Assume Rex was sexually abused as a child. Decades later, as an adult, he shares bits and pieces of these memories with a therapist. The therapist arranges medical treatment for Rex which fully unlocks those memories. He has two years from that full unlock date to file a legal claim for the injuries he sustained.
In a sexual abuse claim, compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Additional punitive damages are usually available in these claims as well. To obtain this compensation, victim/plaintiffs must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the tortfeasor, or organization which employed the tortfeasor, intentionally disregarded a known risk.
If the responsible organization has declared bankruptcy, as the Boy Scouts of America did, victims can usually file claims with the bankruptcy administrator. The procedure is different, but the compensation available is usually the same.
No matter how much time has passed, sexual abuse victims usually have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Kansas City, contact the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm. Virtual, after-hours, and home visits are available.