Sexual assault and acts of sexual violence are traumatizing events that profoundly impact the well-being of survivors. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most underreported crimes. According to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 76% of rape and sexual assault incidents nationwide remain unreported, including incidents involving teenage survivors.
If your teenage child seeks legal representation to bring a claim against their abuser, Wagner Reese’s sexual abuse attorney team can help. Our role is to empower teenage survivors, ensure they are comfortable coming forward, and bring them justice. Here’s everything you need to know about whether they can sue as minors and the legal options available.
Can Teenagers Sue?
Although the age of majority in Indiana is 18, the rules regarding who can sue are outlined in the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure.
According to Rule 17(c), minors, including teenagers, have the legal right to sue. But they may not sue in their own name. A parent, legal guardian, next friend (someone who appears in court in their place because they are a minor or considered incompetent), or guardian ad litem (appointed by the court) may sue on behalf of the minor.
What are the Rights of Sexual Assault Survivors?
Under Indiana Code, both rape and sexual battery are felonies that carry harsh penalties for the offender. Indiana also has a separate law for sexual misconduct with a minor that states that when a person 18-20 years old has sex or sexual conduct with a child 14 or 15 years old, it’s a Level 5 Felony.
Under Indiana law, sexual assault survivors, regardless of age, have the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse from the criminal justice system.
Survivors may also speak to a victim service provider and receive a sexual assault medical examination and forensic testing without charge.
Survivors of assault have the right to pursue criminal charges against an abuser with the possibility of jail time as well as civil charges to seek compensation for their assault.
Why You Should Consider a Civil Suit for Sexual Assault
Although sexual assault is a felony exposing the perpetrator to a criminal trial, survivors, including teenage survivors with appropriate legal representation, may also sue to recover financial damages.
Because state prosecutors have control over your case, it’s possible they may not press charges or go to trial. However, a teenage sexual assault survivor with skilled and experienced legal representation has the ability to press civil charges against their abuser.
A qualified team of sexual assault attorneys from Wagner Reese has the resources to help teenage survivors in the following ways:
- Familiarity with the law: Navigating local and state laws regarding sexual abuse cases can be daunting, especially as a younger person. Attorneys specialized in sexual abuse can inform you of your options and provide the knowledge and assistance you need.
- Evidence collection: Qualified attorneys can help you obtain as much evidence as possible to prove liability: police reports, crime scene reports, and medical documentation.
- Value determination: Sexual abuse attorneys have the experience to determine the value of your case by examining all costs, whether economic (lost wages, costs of medical treatment) or non-economic (emotional distress, anxiety, depression).
- Settlement seeking: Many sexual abuse cases against minors and teenagers involve abusers in organizations with insurance coverage, such as clergy members, teachers, or coaches. A skilled attorney will deal with the insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you obtain maximum compensation.
- Representation in a court of law: From pre-trial hearings to court representation and damages collection, your attorney represents you and ensures you receive the compensation you deserve.
Why You Can Trust Wagner Reese
Wagner Reese’s team of expert attorneys have the skills, resources, and sensitivity to approach sexual assault claims with the urgency and attention you deserve. We are dedicated to empowering young survivors by ensuring their abusers and the institutions that enable them are held accountable.
Seek justice today and contact us for a free case review. All inquiries remain 100% confidential to protect your rights and well-being.