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Houston Sexual Abuse Lawyers

Although it is not easy, you can and should hold someone responsible for the sexual abuse you have suffered, whether it happened when you were a child or an adult. Texas law gives you a generous amount of time to file a lawsuit after your abuse happened.

Contact the personal injury attorneys at Nix Patterson to learn about your legal rights and how much you may be able to receive in financial compensation for the wrong that was done to you.

What Is Considered Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse can encompass many types of conduct. Sexual abuse can be both a crime and a tort at the same time. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, you can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator or the organization that failed to prevent the abuse from occurring.

One of the key elements in any type of sexual abuse case is the lack of consent of the victim. However, even if a child consents to sexual activity with an adult, it would still be considered abuse because a child does not have the ability to consent. In every case, the perpetrator is taking advantage of their power and breaking the law.

Sexual Abuse Laws in Texas

Under Texas law, sexual abuse could include the following behaviors and actions:

  • Sexual Assault. Texas law defines sexual assault the same as it does rape. Sexual assault can include violent and coercive sexual actions, as well as sexual activity with someone who cannot give consent. The length of the jail sentence depends on the degree of the crime. First-degree sexual assault can lead to a prison sentence of up to 99 years.
  • Sexual Coercion. Texas law makes it illegal to obtain sexual services, intimate visual material, or money after promising not to commit a crime against another person.
  • Indecent Assault. State law makes it illegal to touch certain body parts of another without permission to do so. There is no penetration required for an assault to be considered indecent.
  • Indecency with a Child. It is a crime to make sexual contact with a minor or teenager younger than 17 years of age. One also cannot expose their genitals or anus in front of a child.

In addition, sexual harassment can cross the line to abuse when there is unwanted touching. Then, the conduct can be treated as an indecent assault. Any of these forms of sexual abuse can have a devastating effect on the lives of children or adults.

How Common Is Sexual Abuse in Houston?

You may be a victim of sexual assault either as a child or an adult. Studies show that one in every four girls and one out of six boys are victims of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18.

There have been numerous lawsuits filed against Houston-area institutions for sexual abuse. Both child and adult victims have been filing lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston, claiming that they were the victims of abuse at the hands of priests. In one 2021 case, the parents of a girl who was ten years old at the time of the alleged abuse filed a lawsuit seeking $10 million in compensation. In another recent case, the parents of a six-year-old child filed a lawsuit against a local school district for failing to prevent sexual abuse that an eleven-year-old committed on a school bus.

The Statute of Limitations for Houston Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Sexual abuse cases, especially those involving plaintiffs who were children at the time of the abuse, generally have longer statutes of limitations than other civil lawsuits. Children do not always come forward at the time of the abuse, and the law accounts for that.

In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed a law allowing sex abuse survivors to file a lawsuit within 30 years of the time that they turn 18 years old, effectively making the statute of limitations their 48th birthday. If you were an adult when you were abused or assaulted, the statute of limitations is five years from the date of the assault.

We recognize that it is very difficult to come forward to relive a deeply traumatic incident. However, you must still have the evidence that can prove that you were an abuse victim, and you could lose that evidence over time.

Common Sexual Abuse Injuries

In many cases, physical injuries are just a small part of the harm that you have experienced. Being the victim of a sexual assault can change the course of your life, and you may never be the same again.

Sexual assault injuries can be in the following categories:

  • Physical injuries. In the immediate aftermath of the abuse, you could suffer injuries, such as bleeding, bruising, or sexually transmitted diseases. Your attacker may have also committed a physical assault which injured you.
  • Emotional and psychological damages. You may suffer from anxiety and depression in the immediate aftermath of the abuse and perhaps for the rest of your life. You may also deal with PTSD and flashbacks from the abuse.
  • Physical Health Issues. The effects of the attack can cause you problems with your physical health. Prolonged anxiety and mental health issues can lead to a breakdown in your overall health.

Sexual abuse injuries mean that you could need a lifetime of psychiatric care. Your injuries could leave you unable to live a normal life. You are eligible for compensation for all of the effects of your injuries, whether they are in the past or future.

Understanding Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Even if the attacker has been charged with and convicted of the crime, you can still file a sexual abuse lawsuit. You are still entitled to compensation for the harm that was done to you when you can prove your case.

There are different standards of proof in a criminal and civil sexual abuse case. The prosecutor must prove sexual abuse cases beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the equivalent of persuading the jury with 100% certainty. In a civil case, you need to prove your allegations by a preponderance of the evidence, which is akin to more likely than not. Thus, it is possible to win a sexual abuse lawsuit, even if the attacker is never charged or convicted. In many cases, the defendant may not even want to fight your lawsuit in court because of both the public embarrassment and the possibility of an angry jury.

Can Someone Other Than My Attacker Be Held Liable for My Damages?

It is very rare that you would actually sue just your attacker for your damages. Chances are that they would not have the money to pay you fully if they had anything at all. Ordinarily, you are looking for a third party to sue because they are the ones who have the deeper pockets. For example, the Catholic Church archdioceses have been held responsible for sexual abuse committed by clergy.

There are two theories that you may use to sue someone other than your attacker:

  • Employer Liability. An employee is an agent of their employer. Thus, the employer is liable for the actions of their employees when they are within the scope of their employment. When clergy or a teacher is working with children, it is part of their employment.
  • Negligent Security. You may have been attacked on someone else’s property. The property owner, or the person in control of the property, has an obligation to provide you with adequate security. They must take action to protect from threats that can be anticipated, and they can be liable if they fail to do so.

What Is My Houston Sexual Abuse Case Worth?

Your compensation in your sexual abuse case is something that is unique to you. Bear in mind that the impacts of your abuse can last a lifetime. You may have difficulty working or being involved in healthy relationships. In the meantime, you could also be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Your sexual abuse attorney would review your case to determine how much you may be due in light of your own individualized circumstances. It is difficult to give you an average figure without knowing more about how you have been impacted personally. The only assurance that a lawyer can give you is that they will fight for you to receive every dollar that you are due.

Your compensation is subject to the responsible party’s ability to pay damages. You may not have been the only assault victim, and there may be many in line, all seeking money from the same pool of assets. For example, some organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, do not have the money to fully pay hundreds or thousands of abuse victims. Then, you may need to file a claim against a settlement fund.

What Types of Compensation Are Available to Victims of Sexual Abuse?

There are three major types of compensation that you could receive:

  • Economic Damages. You can be compensated for the actual economic losses associated with your abuse, including any costs of medical or psychological treatment and the lost wages you could have earned if you are unable to work.
  • Non-Economic Damages. These damages compensate you for the impact that the abuse has had and will have on your life. Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering, embarrassment and humiliation, and emotional distress.
  • Punitive Damages. If your case goes to trial and you win, the jury could award you punitive damages. A jury could decide to punish the defendant when their conduct was particularly shocking. Punitive damages are rare, but they can be substantial, making defendants more willing to negotiate a settlement.

Your compensation can be considerable, but it is up to you to learn exactly how much your case is worth before you file a claim or lawsuit.

Contact Our Houston Sexual Abuse Lawyers Today

When you want justice and accountability, even years after the fact, contact the Houston sexual abuse lawyers at Nix Patterson to discuss your rights. We will review your case and work with you on a potential lawsuit or claim. We fight hard on behalf of our clients, knowing that our efforts could bring you some solace and perhaps closure after the horrors to which you have been subjected. Message us online or call us today at 512-328-5333 to get started.


Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below. 

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