Protecting the Vulnerable

“When I was young, I was abused in a foster home. What can I do now to obtain some justice?”

I am sorry for whatever abuse you endured.

If you want justice for abuse, the first thing I would advise you to do is report what happened to the police. Your question doesn’t state your age nor the nature or time of the abuse, but I would advise you to report crimes to the police. Depending on what happened and when it happened, the District Attorney may or may not be able to bring charges against the perpetrator.

You may also have civil claims that you can bring against the perpetrator and the authority that investigated the perpetrator before and after you were placed in their custody. The Child Victims Act extended the statute of limitations for victims to make claims against perpetrators. Claims against the perpetrator directly may have no value since the perpetrator may already be in jail and unable to pay any judgment.

There may be several claims against the Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services. One claim could be Federal Civil Rights claim under 42 USC 1983. Federal Civil Rights claims require that the municipal entity showed “deliberate indifference” to the victim’s welfare and safety. That means that the municipal employee disregarded a known or obvious consequence of his action or inaction. This can be inferred from a “pattern of omissions revealing deliberate inattention to specific duties imposed for the purpose of safeguarding plaintiff’s from abuse.”

Cases like these can drag on for a long time. But the Federal claim will give the plaintiff the best chance to obtain crucial discovery, necessary to prove a claim, from the municipal entity. Most of the records of these agencies are protected from discovery by statute. But a viable claim against the municipal entity would give the Court the leverage to order documents to be turned over during discovery.

There are many other considerations and claims. Needless to say, an extended consultaion with an attorney would be your best course of action.

Assaults at Work II

In a previous post, the issue of Compensation for assaults by a co-worker was addressed. The question was asked if an assault by a co-worker was covered by Worker’s Compensation. The answer was Compensation would cover a claim arising out of an assault that occurred on the job. A second issue that may arise in this case is the right of an employee to directly sue a co-employee for assault.

Generally, employees may sue not their co-worker’s for negligence. If your co-worker’s negligence causes you to sustain injuries on the job, then your exclusive remedy is Compensation benefits. However, if that co-worker punches you, then you can also sue that co-worker for assault.  Unlike Compensation claims, in a suit for assault, the injured employee can obtain an award for pain and suffering.

Sometimes, direct suits against co-workers do not work out. Sometimes, employees may not be able to identify the assailant.  Sometimes, law suits against co-workers result in judgments that can never be collected because the assailant is insolvent.

But the injured worker can still elect to sue the assailant and can have a judgment against that person in the event the assailant ever becomes solvent in the future.

Assaults at Work

“I was injured at my job when a recently hired co-worker lost control of himself and punched me. Do I have a claim against my employer for hiring someone unstable?”

The short answer is yes.  This type of incident would be covered by Worker’s Compensation. Your employer’s Compensation Carrier will cover your medical bills and pay you lost wages while you recover from your injuries. Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you may be entitled to a settlement at the conclusion of your Compensation case.