Clergy Abuse Victims

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions you may have regarding your situation. Here is helpful information. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, exploitation or assault, call the law firm of Nix, Patterson & Roach. You need a lawyer with experience handling these highly sensitive and emotional cases. Contact Neil Smith for a confidential, free consultation at 1-800-220-1088.

Q) The church is very small: can they pay for my damages?

A) Nearly every church has liability insurance. In fact, many churches purchase sexual abuse insurance to pay for these exact types of claims.

Q) The church leaders tell me that this was the first complaint; can they still be responsible?

A) There may have been earlier complaints or warning signs that were ignored. Witnesses to the complaint may have to be located and contacted. More importantly, a church may be responsible for failing to properly investigate and discover the warning signs.

Q) What if this happened several years ago?

A) Each state has a deadline for bringing a lawsuit. It is called a statute of limitations. This is a very technical legal issue that can vary state to state. This deadline may be extended for children. Therefore, it is very important to contact a lawyer immediately in order to assert your rights before this deadline expires. Don’t assume it is too late. Call our offices to discuss.

Q) I am a child and my parent will not sue the church; what should I do?

A) Children may be able to bring a suit with the help of a court-appointed representative or another family member. If parents are unwilling to assist, ask for the help of another family member or contact our offices directly.

Q) The denomination tells me that they are not responsible because the organization has no hierarchy or tiered structure. They insist that the local church was “independent” and that prevents them from being responsible. Are they correct?

A) The way in which a religious denomination is structured is just one factor used to determine who may be responsible. It is not decisive.

Q) What if the church’s insurance company wants to talk with me?

A) Even though the insurance company may have the name “Church” in it, it is not part of your church and is not there to help you. Their goal is to minimize liability and payments to you. You should get the advice of a lawyer before talking to them.

Q) What if the church’s insurance company wants to settle with me directly?

A) See the advice of a lawyer to determine your rights.

Q) Is this just a problem with Catholic churches?

A) This is a problem in all churches. Most often our clients are victims of abuse in protestant churches.

Q) Can a non-profit or charitable organization still be held responsible?

The law varies from state to state. However, in Texas they may still be held responsible in abuse cases.

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