Child abuse, sexual assault and vehicle collisions resulting in death or serious injury have a devastating impact on the victim. Abusers are typically known to the victim, such as a teacher, coworker, family member, neighbor but it might also be a complete stranger. The law not only provides for criminal prosecution to punish the perpetrator, but also civil action to attempt to make the victim “whole” again with financial compensation. Sending a criminal to prison or making them pay money cannot undo the crime, but it can go a long way toward achieving some measure of justice. Lawsuits by victims hold the wrongdoer and the entities that facilitated the abuse, such as schools, the Department of Human Services, day care facilities or medical providers, directly accountable.
As a former Deputy District Attorney prosecuting homicides, sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, felony assaults and many other crimes in Multnomah County, I have helped literally thousands of crime victims navigate the criminal justice system. Every victim comes to the court system with a different understanding of it and unique needs and expectations. I have always strived to make sure their needs are met and they are treated with the care and respect they deserve. Now in my private practice, I work with the prosecutor to ensure the criminal case resolves in a manner beneficial to the civil case that will also not jeopardize the criminal case. I will also represent a crime victim pro bono in the criminal case to enforce their constitutional rights, regardless of whether you choose to pursue a civil case. This includes being involved in the decision-making process and staying informed of the status.
Beginning my legal practice as a prosecutor helped me understand the relationship between the criminal and civil justice systems and how to advocate for my clients in both. From victims injured by a drunk driver, in a sexual assault or the abuse of a child, adult or other vulnerable person, it is key to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in both the civil and criminal systems. Many civil personal injury attorneys do not know their way around the criminal justice system, and vice versa. I have a particular advantage having worked in both. I know the traditional practices, and how to successfully maneuver each in a way most beneficial to my clients.
Even if your case was never criminally pursued, it might still be a viable civil case. This is because the legal standard to prove a civil case is lower. In certain cases, victims do not report the crime or involve authorities at the time and wait to do so until years later. This does not necessarily mean you’re unable to file a civil lawsuit against the abuser or the entity that facilitated the abuse. As of January 2010, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for a case involving sex abuse of a child was extended, allowing survivors increased access to seeking justice.
I represent physical and sexual abuse victims perpetrated by daycare providers, foster parents, professionals (doctors and medical personnel, educators, employers and supervisors), neighbors, school employees, family members, friends, nursing home staff and Oregon state agencies, such as the Department of Human Services. Additionally, I represent victims of drunk drivers, assault, physical abuse and neglect. In wrongful death cases, I represent the estate of the deceased victim so their family can be compensated for the loss of companionship of their loved one.