Is It Worth It?

Only the survivor of sexual assault can decide whether bringing a lawsuit will be worthwhile, weighing the likelihood of a successful outcome against the difficulties of going through the court process.

The advice of a lawyer experienced in these cases will help the survivor make the decision, especially if there is a strong case (such as prior criminal conviction), damages are significant, and a potential defendant has financial means. The lawyer can advise the client of his or her legal rights and remedies and explain how lawsuits work. The lawyer will also assess the likelihood of success and the range of any potential damages to be awarded. The lawyer can represent the client in litigation, arbitration or mediation, and conduct settlement negotiations on the client’s behalf.

Facts about sexual assault lawsuits

  • The number of large damages awards is rising, especially in cases of incest occurring over several years.
  • In assessing general damages for pain and suffering, the courts consider: the nature of the acts, the duration of the assaults, the resulting harm, the survivor’s age, and the impact on the survivor's life, including his or her education and career.
  • General damages can range from a few thousand dollars for a single offence by a stranger to $250,000 or more for the most serious incest cases.
  • Survivors can be awarded damages to cover the cost of past and future therapy, as well as damages for past and future income losses in some cases.
  • The courts may also award substantial ‘punitive damages’ to punish the offender. They are less likely to do this if the abuser has been criminally convicted and punished.
  • Other individuals may have claims against the abuser or responsible parties. For example, under the Family Law Act, the survivor's parents or other family members may have claims for loss of care, companionship and guidance due to the assault. Family members may be awarded some damages for the extra support they need to give the survivor.

Date

Type

Title

Related People

March 2018

Presentation

Pursuing Compensation for Victims of Crime: Civil Lawsuits

Loretta P. Merritt

March 2018

Article

When Should the Survivor of a Sexual Assault Seek the Advice of a Civil Lawyer?

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2018

Presentation

Current and Emerging Issues in Civil Sexual Assault:Credibility and Memory Issues in Sexual Assault Cases

February 2018

Presentation

Understanding your client and assessing causation in sexual abuse case

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2017

Article

Improving the Legal Experience of Sexual Assault Survivors

Loretta P. Merritt

October 2017

Article

The Problem with Class Actions for Historical Sexual Abuse Cases

Loretta P. Merritt

September 2017

Article

Appeal of $24K Damages Award Against Assault Complainant

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

August 2017

Article

Ontario Disability Support Program Changes Help Abuse Survivors

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2017

Article

Relationship Lies

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

April 2017

Presentation

2017 OTLA Webinar - Sexual Assault Cases: Overcoming Significant Client Credibility Issues

2017 OTLA Webinar - Sexual Assault Cases: Overcoming Significant Client Credibility Issues

Loretta P. Merritt

March 2017

Article

The End of Limitation Periods for Sexual Abuse Cases in Ontario - CCAA

Abuse Hurts - Spring 2017

Loretta P. Merritt

September 2016

Presentation

Pursuing Compensation for Sexual Abuse Survivors Civil Actions - ILA Presentation

The Barbara Schlifer Clinic
ILA Presentation  

Loretta P. Merritt

July 2016

Article

No time limits on sexual crime compensation

This article originally appeared in the June 24 2016 issue of The Lawyers Weekly.

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2016

Article

'Revenge porn' brings 100k in damages

This article originally appeared in the April 29, 2016 issue of The Lawyers Weekly.

Loretta P. Merritt

April 2016

Article

Law makes civil sex assalut litigation easier

Law Times - March 14, 2016

Loretta P. Merritt

April 2016

Newsletter

The End of Limitation Periods for Sexual Abuse Cases in Ontario

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

October 2015

Presentation

Pursuing Compensation for Sexual Abuse Survivors: Civil Actions

Canadian Addictions Treatment Centres
A Lunch and Learn

Loretta P. Merritt

September 2015

Article

Negligence of Institutions: The Standard of Care

The Litigator - OTLA

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2015

Article

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act

 

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2015

Article

Can a Children's Aid Society be Liable for Abuse by Foster Parents?

Loretta P. Merritt

March 2015

Article

When Should the Victim of a Sexual Assault Seek the Advice of a Lawyer?

AbuseHurts.com E-Zine

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2015

Presentation

Negligence and the Standard of Care in Civil Sexual Assault Cases

Osgoode PD Webinar Series
Key Issues in Civil Sexual Assault

Loretta P. Merritt

January 2015

Article

Why Are Damages In Civil Sexual Assault Cases So Low?

AbuseHurts.com E-Zine

Loretta P. Merritt

January 2015

Article

Vicarious Liability Update 2015

Loretta P. Merritt

October 2014

Article

Legal Proceedings: Civil or Criminal?

AbuseHurts.com E-Zine

Loretta P. Merritt

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