Brian Kent, a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now fights for the civil legal rights of sex abuse victims in New Jersey.
“When we hired Brian Kent to handle our case, we quickly learned he would go the extra mile to help us reach a fair and equitable settlement.” Read more here.
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Sexual Abuse by Doctors, Nurses, Etc. – Traumatic for Victims
Medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, nurses’ aides, etc., come into close contact with patients. This is what makes sexual abuse by a medical professional so difficult for patients. The abuse of trust is monumental, and victims are often left questioning whether the act even occurred or whether they did something to give the wrong message. These are typical mental responses to sexual abuse or sexual assault. For instance, a doctor who is performing a physical examination commits an act of sexual abuse on the patient. In the hours and days after the assault, the patient may try to convince themselves that the act never occurred, that they must have imagined the whole thing. The abuse of trust often leaves patients generally distrustful of medical professionals. Some patients may have difficulties getting subsequent medical examinations.
Consequently, patients who have suffered sexual abuse by a medical professional like a doctor may not file a criminal report or ever take legal action in the civil courts (i.e., file a civil lawsuit). However, when and if a patient finally files a report or takes civil action, they are often surprised to learn that the perpetrator abused other patients. The reality is that most medical professionals who commit sexual abuse don’t abuse just one patient. Oftentimes, the doctor has abused many patients.
What is a Patient’s Civil Legal Rights for Sexual Abuse by a Doctor in New Jersey?
1. What is the Time Limitation for Action?
At the outset, it is important to note that in New Jersey, an adult who was the victim of sexual abuse by a doctor or medical professional has 2 years from the date of the act to file a civil action. This is New Jersey’s general tort/injury 2 year statute of limitations at play. However, it is important to note that the 2 year law only applies to adults.
The New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act applies to cases involving children who are sexually abused by medical professionals in New Jersey. Under that law, the 2 year clock starts ticking when the victim reasonably discovers that they were injured (physically or mentally) and the injury is causally related to the sexual abuse. For example, someone who was sexually abused by a doctor when they were a child may become diagnosed with depression or anxiety many years later, as an adult. Applying the NJ Child Sexual Abuse Act, the 2 year clock starts ticking when the person discovers that the depression/anxiety was caused by the abuse.
Related: School Sex Abuse Claims in New Jersey (Part 1) – NJ’s Child Sex Abuse Act & the Statute of Limitations
2. Who Can Be Held Responsible?
Under New Jersey law, other individuals and entities can be held liable when a doctor or medical professional sexually abuses a patient. The typical example involves a doctor who has an extensive history of sexually inappropriate behavior. Prior employers such as medical offices and hospital organizations which knew of the history but failed to take appropriate action could be held liable. In these types of cases, negligence is defined as the failure to do something a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances. The key is proving who knew what, when they knew it, and what action they took in response.
3. What is the Outcome of a NJ Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
The New Jersey civil tort system awards financial compensation to a patient who was sexually abused by a doctor, nurse, etc. That’s how the system works. It rights a wrong by awarding a financial sum to the injured party. A sexual abuse victim may be awarded compensation for:
- medical bills,
- counseling treatment costs, and
- pain and suffering (mental and emotional trauma).
DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.