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Should I Settle My Child’s Sexual Abuse Claim or Go to Court?

When families are faced with the realization that their son or daughter has been sexually abused, there is no doubt that a victimized child’s parents want to seek justice and make the abuser pay for his or her wrongful actions. However, parents often are worried about getting involved in the legal process. Typically, parents don’t want their child to have to go to court and be put through the Florida legal system.

Parents know that going to court can cause their child more pain, and they don’t want to make their child relive the trauma. They want their child to be able to put the abuse in the past and move on. Not only are parents worried about what court could do to their child’s mental state, but parents are often worried about privacy issues. This is why many families choose to settle outside of court than pursue a trial.

Settlement vs. Trial

When a child is abused at school, church, or in the Boy Scouts, organizations that employ the abuser may want to settle outside of court to keep the matter as private as possible. In fact, these organizations will try to get families to settle in order to keep the matter concealed. However, what parents need to know is that filing a lawsuit and going to court does give abused children and their families a chance to speak out against the person who wronged them, stand up for their rights, and hold the offender responsible.

Child Protections When Pursuing a Trial

Many parents don’t realize that there are certain ways children can be protected when going through a lawsuit or trial. For example, a child’s initials can be used on the claim so his or her full name does not appear on public record. Additionally, abused children are often given the courtesy of recording a deposition so they don’t have to testify in court. If a child does have to go to the courthouse, authorities can make special arrangements for separate waiting areas and accompany the abused child to and from the parking lot.

Benefits of Filing a Child Abuse Lawsuit

In our experience, going to court has helped abused children and their families in the following ways:

  • Lets abused children know their parents believe them.
  • Helps victimized children stand up for themselves.
  • Empowers children.
  • Helps families get closure and move forward. 
  • Allows abused children and their families to seek the costs associated with the abuse (compensation for emotional and physical costs).

While court can be stressful at times, and can bring up feelings of sadness, anger, and other emotions, it can also help with healing and recovery. If you still aren’t sure what you want to do, please order a free copy of our book, When the Unthinkable Happens: Your Guide to Florida Child Abuse Claims.


Damian Mallard, Esq.
Board Certified Sarasota Personal Injury Attorney