Damages You Can Sue for in a Sexual Abuse Case in Washington

Categories: Sexual Abuse

damages available for sexual abuse survivors


Sexual abuse is a harrowing experience that can leave lasting emotional, psychological, and physical scars on survivors. In Washington state, victims of sexual abuse have legal recourse to claim damages for the harm they’ve endured. This blog explores the various forms of compensation available to survivors, empowering them to seek justice and healing.

Damages for Sexual Abuse

Damages for civil sexual assault refer to the monetary compensation awarded to survivors to help them recover from the trauma and to hold the perpetrator accountable. These damages are intended to provide some measure of justice and assist survivors in rebuilding their lives. The types of sexual abuse damages available in a case will be unique to the circumstances.

Economic Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate survivors for their losses from sexual abuse. These damages may include medical expenses, therapy costs, loss of income or earning capacity, and other tangible losses.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages aim to compensate victims for the non-monetary losses they endured, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive Damages

In cases of egregious misconduct, the court may award punitive damages. Judges only award these damages rarely because they are not compensatory in nature. Instead, they are meant to punish the perpetrator for their bad actions and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.


After living through the trauma of sexual assault, you may be entitled to this type of compensation for what you have endured. Claiming damages for sexual assault can seem overwhelming. But our team of compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys will see that you receive the best possible outcome.

Civil vs. Criminal Proceedings

Most sexual assault survivors can seek justice in criminal proceedings and civil lawsuits. Both aim to punish the perpetrator and responsible parties in different ways. However, it is through a civil lawsuit that you can seek monetary compensation.

Civil Lawsuits

Victims of sexual assault can pursue civil lawsuits against the perpetrator and other liable parties. In civil cases, the burden of proof is by “a preponderance of the evidence.” This is a much lower standard than the burden of proof in a criminal case, and it means the survivor must show it is more likely than not that the abuse occurred. Survivors must also be aware of the statute of limitations, which sets a time limit for filing a claim. In Washington, the statute of limitations for civil sexual assault cases can vary depending on the circumstances. Promptly consulting an attorney ensures survivors do not miss the opportunity to seek justice.

Criminal Proceedings

Apart from civil actions, the perpetrator may face criminal charges for their actions. Criminal trials require a much greater burden of proof than civil cases. The prosecutor must prove each element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a far greater burden of proof than the law requires in a civil case. Therefore, if the prosecutor loses at a criminal trial, that does not mean you will lose your civil lawsuit since the burden of proof is so much lower.

Remembering that you can have one case without the other is essential.  

Supporting Survivors in Court

At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we prioritize supporting our clients while they seek the damages they deserve. We do this in several ways.

Legal Representation

Engaging an experienced attorney specializing in sexual abuse cases can significantly enhance the survivor’s chances of obtaining fair compensation. A skilled lawyer will advocate for your rights and navigate the legal complexities.

Gathering Evidence

Building a solid case requires gathering evidence such as medical records, witness testimony, photographs, and any relevant documentation substantiating the abuse and its consequences.

Confidentiality and Empathy

Legal proceedings can be emotionally challenging for survivors. The legal system in Washington often provides ways to protect your privacy and limit exposure to further trauma.

Victims of sexual abuse in Washington can seek damages to aid their recovery and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. Survivors can claim compensatory, general, and punitive damages through civil lawsuits. Seeking justice for sexual abuse is a brave step toward healing and preventing future harm. 

What Damages Are Available to Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse can happen at any age, and sadly, abusers often target children because of their vulnerability. Survivors of childhood abuse often suffer severe and complex trauma that can affect their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. While Washington state does not provide for specific damages solely for childhood abuse survivors, they may be entitled to:

  • Extended statute of limitations,
  • Punitive damages,
  • Therapy and counseling costs, and 
  • Loss of earning capacity (e.g., unable to work when you reach adulthood because of your trauma).

The legal system recognizes the unique challenges faced by childhood abuse victims and aims to provide avenues for justice, healing, and compensation.

Washington Sexual Abuse Civil Litigation Attorneys

Remember, no survivor should face this journey alone, and the legal system is there to help you reclaim your power and dignity. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we put our clients first. If you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual abuse, you deserve justice and compensation for what you have endured. We successfully got our client, a survivor of foster care sexual abuse, $3.3. million dollars in compensation. Let us help you! Contact us today


Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.