Our quick guide on how to make a claim for abuse compensation
If you would like guidance on how to make a claim for abuse compensation or would like our experts to provide a free assessment of your case then call our free helpline on 0808 139 1597 or send an email in confidence to [email protected]
When people ask how to claim compensation for being sexually abused, lawyers have a tendency to give complex and technical legal answers. The reason for this is simple; the law can often be very complex and very technical. Solicitors therefore want to make sure that they answer the question fully, but this can leave the abuse survivor without a clear idea about what is involved.
We have therefore prepared this quick guide on how to claim compensation which is based on details of a real-life case we recently dealt with. This will give you a good idea of the sort of issues that can arise in an abuse compensation claim. We hope it will help you to understand the process and recognise that making a compensation claim might not be as difficult or as stressful as you feared.
The facts of our client’s real-life case
Our client endured sexual abuse as a young teenager in the 1970s. He worked as a volunteer at the Great Central Railway, a steam railway in the Loughborough area. He had volunteered there since he was 13 years old.
His manager was a man named Simon. He behaved in a bullying way towards our client choosing him for the worst and dirtiest jobs, shouting at him, and generally behaving in an intimidating and unpleasant way.
One evening, in the summer of 1978, our client was working at the station. Simon was in the buffet car and offered our client a drink, saying it was to apologise for having been so harsh on him. Simon then suggested that they move to another room for a chat and they both went to the Porter’s Room. While in the Porter’s Room Simon showed our client a pornographic magazine. He then pushed our client into a chair, pinned him down and began undoing his trousers. Our client tried to fight him off but was unable to. He begged Simon to stop but despite this he was sexually assaulted by Simon.
Our client was very distressed and flustered. He tried to get away from Simon by going into the downstairs toilet. While in the toilets Simon entered and pulled our client round to look at his genitals. Our client managed to get out of the room and back to the main building, telling Simon that he was going to call the police. Simon threatened him, saying that he would go to prison if the police were called.
Our client wanted to go home but he had missed the last bus. Simon offered to drive him home, promising that he would not touch him. Our client felt unable to refuse as he was so intimidated by Simon and was many miles from home. During the journey our client was again sexually abused despite repeated appeals to stop.
Our client was able to confide in his father about the assault. With his father’s help he told the stationmaster and a meeting was held during the course of which Simon admitted what he had done. He was suspended from work for 6 months but the assault was not reported to the police.
Over the following years our client suffered bouts of depression and anxiety. He struggled with male authority figures which caused him disruption and difficulty with his education and employment. He moved jobs frequently as he struggled with male managers who reminded him of Simon.
Years later, when several historic abuse cases came into the public eye, our client felt able to report the incident to the police himself and Simon was arrested in October 2014. He admitted the offence to the police and was placed under caution for five years and made to sign the Sex Offenders Register.
Making the abuse compensation claim
Our client contacted our legal helpline and we carried out a free case assessment.
We said that even though the sexual abuse had occurred many years ago, cases of historical abuse can still be pursued.
We talked about funding the legal costs and agreed to deal with the claim on a No Win – No Fee basis.
He decided that he would like to proceed with making the claim. We therefore considered what evidence would be needed to prove his case and obtained the police records which would confirm that Simon had admitted to the offence. We then sent a formal ‘letter of claim’ to the Great Central Railway. We directed the claim to them as they were effectively Simon’s employers and therefore legally responsible for what he did while he was working for them.
We could have directed the claim against Simon personally, but in these cases it is generally better to claim against the employer as they are likely to be insured and have the finances to pay the compensation.
It is not uncommon for defendants to maintain a denial of responsibility while at the same time accepting, on a ‘without prejudice’ basis, that they may be held legally liable. When court proceedings are threatened the legal costs rise substantially and this often results in the defendant making an offer to settle the claim ‘out of court’ so as to reduce their liability to pay a large sum of legal costs in addition to the compensation. This is exactly what happened in our client’s case.
We obtained a medical report on the psychological impact the sexual abuse had on him and threatened to issue court proceedings. The solicitors representing the Railway made him an offer of compensation and after some further negotiations an out of court settlement was agreed.
Our client was very pleased with the outcome and it wasn’t just the compensation that was important to him. The acknowledgment of wrongdoing that the legal settlement represented gave him a feeling of closure and he said he had found making the claim therapeutic.
Contact us for guidance on how to make a claim for abuse compensation
We hope you found this case study about how to make a claim for abuse compensation helpful. If you have suffered sexual abuse and are thinking about making a claim then either call our legal helpline or send an email to us at [email protected] and we will provide you with a free and confidential case assessment along with details of no win, no fee funding.