December 22nd, 2014

Can a Student Sue for School-Teacher Sexual Abuse?

Reports of sexual abuse of students by school employees such as teachers, coaches and principals have been all over the national news in recent years. In addition, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have seen their fair share of reports of sexual abuse by teachers. Over the last year or so, several teachers in Pennsylvania have been arrested and charged with sexually abusing students. Some teachers have been convicted and are now serving sentences.

One issue which often arises in a school sexual abuse case is whether the student can sue for the abuse. Under the laws of most states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, victims of sexual abuse have legal rights in both the criminal and civil legal justice systems. However, the result and outcome of each type of case differs. While both systems are designed to punish the perpetrator, the civil justice system takes it one step further and provides a way for a student (injured plaintiff) to obtain financial compensation.

Financial compensation is the bedrock of the civil justice system. That’s how the system works. It rights a wrong by ordering the wrongdoer to pay a financial sum to the injured party. This principle applies in all types of civil cases, including contract disputes, real estate disputes, and of course, personal injury/accident lawsuits. The term “personal injury and accident lawsuit” is really an umbrella term and encompasses multiple types of cases, such as auto accidents, work accidents, and school sexual abuse cases.

This article will explain a victim’s civil legal rights in a school sex abuse case.

A Student’s Civil Legal Rights in a School Sex Abuse Case

Under civil tort laws, an injured party has a right to bring a legal claim against any person or business entity which negligently or intentionally caused an injury. Therefore, students who are groomed for sexual abuse by a teacher, coach, etc., have civil legal rights against two types of parties: 1. direct perpetrators, and 2. indirect perpetrators.

A direct perpetrator is the actual perpetrator of an act of sexual abuse. In a school sexual assault or abuse case, direct perpetrators often include:

  • teachers/teacher assistants,
  • coaches/coaching assistants, and
  • principals.

On the other hand, an indirect perpetrator is not an actual perpetrator, but instead, someone who either 1. knew about the abuse and failed to take appropriate action to stop it, or 2. didn’t know about the abuse, but should have known about it. Indirect perpetrators often include:

  • private schools,
  • public schools,
  • day care centers,
  • summer programs, and
  • summer camps.

Click here to read about the types of claims made in civil sexual abuse cases involving school-student abuse.

Financial Compensation Claims in a School Sex Abuse Lawsuit

The plaintiff in a school sex abuse lawsuit is entitled to make a claim for all damages which reasonably flow from the abuse. In a typical school-student abuse case, claims for financial compensation include:

  • medical bills for treatment of any physical injuries,
  • psychological counseling costs for treatment of any and all emotional/mental trauma, and
  • pain and suffering.

To submit your case for review by our Pennsylvania and New Jersey school-student sexual abuse lawyers, call Click To Call.  Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

DISCLAIMER: This website does not provide legal advice.  Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case.  See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.