Historical Abuse claims

4 February 2015

Historical Abuse claims

Our expert abuse solicitors, Matt Higgins and Fiona Sterritt, specialise in all types of sexual, physical and child abuse claims. We deal with every victim with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality and pursue each case with urgency and professionalism. Our experienced team have successfully completed many historical institutionalised abuse claims against various different clerical orders and children's homes throughout Northern Ireland.

Whether you were abused as a child or as an adult, and whether the abuse was sexual, physical or both, you should talk to us about claiming compensation from the individual or the organisation or person that failed to protect you from the abuse.

We understand the difficulties that you may have in discussing the abuse, and we appreciate the fears and anxieties you may have about making a claim. We handle all types of abuse compensation cases including sexual abuse, physical abuse, child abuse, the abuse of an elderly person or abuse of a disabled person.

Your abuse compensation claim - what to expect from us:

  1. In our initial discussions with you about your abuse compensation claim we will explain the legal process and give you a realistic picture of what you may achieve, and the most likely outcome.
  2. The process of making a claim for abuse is often quite lengthy. In the early stages we will only ask for enough details about your experience to determine whether your claim is likely to proceed, and from whom you should claim damages. To gather evidence to support your claim and to build a strong case, you will need to disclose as many details about the nature of the abuse as you can.
  3. Medical evidence will also be needed to confirm the nature and extent of your injuries, whether those injuries are physical or psychological. Usually the claim will be for psychiatric or psychological damage caused to you as a result of the abuse. At no cost to you, we will arrange for you to see a qualified medical expert, experienced in conducting assessments and preparing reports in abuse cases.
  4. Compensation may be awarded for the following:
  • the abuse or an assault
  • the psychological or psychiatric damage caused
  • the cost of any therapy or treatments recommended by the medical expert
  • occasionally for loss of earnings.

Understandably, many claimants are concerned about having to attend court. The vast majority of civil claims are successfully concluded before going to trial.

We encourage anyone who wishes to pursue a sexual or physical abuse claim to report the abuse to the police. The Police Service of Northern Ireland have specialist units to deal with complaints of abuse and we can make the initial contact with the relevant police force on your behalf.

The outcome of any criminal proceedings will, of course, be relevant and if there is a criminal conviction this will assist your claim However, the lack of a successful prosecution will not necessarily prevent an abuse claim being brought.

Whilst time limits do apply to abuse claims, you can still claim compensation even when the abuse occurred many years ago.

Case study

Children's Home Sexual Abuse Case Success

Mary's child abuse story | £65,000 settlement

Mary* approached us regarding a very difficult period in her childhood. Mary was resident in a children's home and sexually abused by a male employee of the home when she was a child.

Mary had all sorts of difficulties which had affected her all her adult life. She had difficulties with relationships and had developed an alcohol and drug problem. She suffered from low mood and low self esteem. She would have flashbacks of the abuse, her sleep was often disturbed and she would have periods of unhappiness or depression.

Child abuse caused post traumatic stress disorder.  Our medical expert was able to diagnose Mary as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and luckily was able to confirm that there was treatment available for the problems Mary had.

Child abuse had a profound impact on schooling
The abuse also had a profound impact upon Mary's schooling. We were able to show that as a result of her problems her educational progress had been delayed and that her employment prospects for the future were affected.

Pursuing Mary's abuse claim
We pursued a claim for Mary against the clerical order which operated the children's home. We were able to negotiate a settlement for her in the sum of £65,000 which included a sum to enable Mary to seek the private treatment needed to help her get her life back on track.

Contact us for confidential advice

If you, or someone in your care, has been a victim of church abuse and would like an informal and confidential discussion with one of our specialist abuse solicitors, Matt Higgins or Fiona Sterritt, please contact us on 028 90770770.

*We have changed the claimant's name to protect anonymity

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