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Am I Eligible for a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

Am I Eligible for a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

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Am I Eligible for a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

You could be eligible for a Catholic Church lawsuit if you incurred damages due to the actions or inactions of Catholic Church clergy or the institution as a whole. Reasons for filing a lawsuit against the Catholic Church can include sexual abuse, avoidable accidents on church property, and others. 

If you were subjected to sexual abuse or have another dispute with the church, you could receive damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and others. However, time to file a lawsuit could be limited. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for free advice to determine whether you have a case against the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandal

According to the John Jay College Report published in 2011, between 1950 and 2002, 4,392 priests allegedly committed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The number of individual reports of sexual abuse had reached 10,667 by 2003. 

In the last decade or more, a wave of allegations against church officials has led to lawsuits by survivors seeking to hold their tormentors and the institution of the Catholic Church to account. In most states, survivors can still pursue justice, even if the abuse happened years ago. While no suit can turn back the time, compensation can make the lives of abuse victims more comfortable by providing them with financial support.

Why Come Forward With a Sexual Abuse Case Now?

Understandably, survivors may feel hesitant to stand up against their abuser and a powerful institution such as the Catholic Church. However, if sexual abuse remains unreported, the perpetrators could go on to abuse innocent victims for years. Moreover, demanding justice and legal recourse can be an empowering experience and provide closure to survivors. Compensation can help victims get the medical and psychological assistance they need to facilitate their healing process. 

It is important to note that the time to file a lawsuit could be limited in your state. If you do not come forward and demand justice now, you could lose the opportunity forever. 

The Emotional and Physical Effects of Abuse 

Survivors of clergy abuse can experience a range of challenging emotional and physical symptoms, including: 

  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Hypervigilance
  • Being easily startled by noises 
  • Depression, anxiety, and anger
  • Eating disorders
  • Avoiding gynecological or urological exams and tests
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Problems with forming intimate relationships
  • Underperformance in school and at work
  • Self-harm

The devastating and lasting effects of sexual abuse can interfere with a person’s ability to lead a full and happy life. The consequences can be evident in their home life and career. If you suffered from abuse by the clergy of the Catholic Church, you do not have to suffer in silence. Our compassionate lawyers can determine your legal options in a confidential and free consultation.  

Some Victims Experience Repressed Memory

You could be entitled to file a Catholic Church lawsuit even if you do not remember all the details about the abuse. Repressed memory can occur due to a particularly stressful and traumatic event such as sexual abuse. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), young children, in particular, may develop a selective memory as they do not understand what is happening when they experience abuse. 

The Controversy Regarding Repressed Memories

In some sexual abuse cases, innocent persons have been accused and convicted based on repressed memories that later turned out to be false. Therefore, some courts may not permit new memories as evidence unless there is other supporting evidence corroborating repressed memories. 

Other Potential Reasons for Suing the Catholic Church

Legal disputes with the Catholic Church can arise in a variety of circumstances, for example, due to an accident on church property, or failing to implement COVID19 measures to keep the congregation safe, to name just two examples. 

Accidents on Church Property

Churches, just as other property and landowners, have the responsibility to make their premises reasonably safe for visitors. If they fail to maintain churches and other buildings adequately, they could be liable for the financial and other damages of individuals getting hurt as a result. 

Slip and Fall

If you or a loved one fell on church property due to a hazardous condition, you could be eligible for a Catholic Church lawsuit. Hazardous conditions can include, among others:

  • Broken stairs and missing handrails
  • Loose mats
  • Lack of lighting
  • Broken or uneven flooring
  • Ice or snow-covered walkways
  • Defective furniture
  • Slippery floor coverings 

If the church did not take reasonable action to remedy a hazardous condition, you could have a case against the institution. Falls can cause serious and costly injuries such as bone fractures and head injuries. If you got hurt due to no fault of your own and incurred medical bills, wage losses, or other damages, seeking legal advice as soon as possible can be advantageous. 

Negligent Security

Property owners, including churches, must implement basic security measures to guard visitors against possible assaults, attacks, robberies, or theft. Examples on negligent security include:

  • Broken locks
  • Lack of fencing and gates
  • Lack of security cameras

Churches, like all other property owners, must implement sufficient security measures appropriate for the premises. If they fail to do so, they could be responsible for any damages that their patrons incur.

Liability for COVID19 Infections in Churches

Transmission of the potentially deadly COVID19 virus can be a particular problem where large numbers of people come together in indoor settings, such as during church events. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attributed at least one major outbreak of the disease to a church event in Arkansas where almost 40 percent of attendees contracted the disease and at least three died. The virus subsequently spread in the wider community, causing further illness and deaths.

The CDC strongly recommended that faith-based organizations conducting services, funerals, and other events, implement government guidelines to curb potential COVID-19 transmissions to church members and wider communities. Failing to adhere to government regulations could potentially constitute negligence. 

Proving where you contracted the disease can be tricky. However, if you or a loved one caught COVID19 during a church service and suffered damages, the church could potentially be liable for damages. You could be eligible for filing a Catholic Church lawsuit and recover compensation. 

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Catholic Church Lawsuit FAQs

  • When Should I File a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

    Personal injury cases have time limits that vary from one state to another and must generally be observed to protect your right to compensation. However, if you have a sexual abuse case, your time limit could be extended. In many cases, abuse in the Catholic Church happened decades ago and victims are still coming forward. To give survivors the chance of getting justice, 15 states have in recent years extended or suspended their statutes of limitations for clergy abuse lawsuits, according to the Associate Press News.

    However, in many states, deadlines still apply. By now, victims may have already missed the deadline for filing a lawsuit in their state or be close to the time limit. Therefore, consider consulting with an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your chances for finding justice and seeking compensation. 

  • Can I File a Lawsuit Despite My Abuser Having Passed Away?

    The answer is generally yes, you could still find legal recourse even if your abuser is no longer alive. Sexual abuse or assault by members of the clergy is generally considered to be institutional. In many cases in the past, the church could be accused of sheltering abusers or failing to help stop abuse within the church. Therefore, survivors could file a case not only against the individual responsible, but also against the Catholic Church as a whole. 

  • What Can I Recover in a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

    According to Reuters, the Catholic Church has paid out more than $3 billion to date to settle clergy abuse cases. However, the amount you could recover individually will depend on the facts of your specific case, including the severity and duration of the abuse suffered and the financial costs associated with the injuries.

    Generally, with any type of personal injury lawsuit against the church, you could recover damages such as:

    • Healthcare costs
    • Income losses
    • Pain and suffering 
    • Out-of-pocket expenses

    One of our attorneys can analyze your specific circumstances, assess your damages and future expected damages, and provide you with an indication of the worth of your case.

  • Do I Have to Go to Court With a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

    You do not necessarily have to go to court with a Catholic Church lawsuit. Most personal injury cases are settled out-of-court and never see a courtroom. Especially in cases of sexual abuse, survivors understandably may want to avoid meeting their abuser at a trial. An attorney can help to negotiate a fair out-of-court settlement.

    However, as with all lawsuits, there is a small chance that your case could go to trial. Those seeking legal recourse should be prepared to go all the way to get justice and compensation, even if it is unlikely to come to a trial. Our attorneys will do their utmost to make the trial as stress-free and quick as possible.

  • How Much Does a Catholic Church Lawsuit Lawyer Cost?

    We believe that getting justice should never be a question of money. Morgan & Morgan only wins if you win. You do not pay any upfront attorney’s fees when we agree to handle your case. If you lose, you are not responsible for any lawsuit costs or fees. We receive a percentage of your final settlement as our fee, and only get paid if and when you win.

  • How Can an Attorney Help Me With a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

    A Catholic Church abuse lawyer can help you in numerous ways, such as: 

    Offering Legal Advice and Guidance

    One of our attorneys can assess your Catholic Church abuse case and determine whether you have legal recourse against the church. We can walk you through your options and help you file a lawsuit. 

    Determine all Liable Parties

    Abuse in the Catholic Church is not only a matter between you and the perpetrator but the institution and other individuals could also be at-fault for what happened to you. This can be especially true in cases where the church tried to cover up abuse and protected the abusers. Our tenacious lawyers can leave no stone unturned in identifying all those responsible, and holding them to account.

    Fighting for a Fair Settlement

    Whether your case against the Catholic Church settles in or out of court, our lawyer will work tirelessly for a best outcome and fair settlement for you. If the other side does not agree to an adequate out-of-court settlement, we do not shy away from fighting for your rights to compensation in court and at trial. 

  • How Can I Protect My Rights in a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

    Taking steps to protect your rights can be crucial if you have grounds to file a lawsuit against the Catholic Church. In the first instance, you can contact an attorney to find out whether you have a case and are still within the timeframe for filing a lawsuit.  

    Consider whether you have any evidence, or could obtain evidence, proving your case against the church, such as:

    • Medical records
    • Physician statements
    • Contact details of witnesses

    If the other side approaches you with the offer of a settlement, you should talk the offer through with a lawyer who can determine the worth of your case. Letting your lawyer handle all communication and negotiation with the other party or their insurance can also be critical for protecting your rights. 

  • Morgan & Morgan Can Fight for Your Rights

    Why put yourself through the stress of going it alone when you are considering standing up to a powerful institution such as the Catholic Church? Morgan & Morgan has the size, resources, and legal knowledge to take on a powerful religious institution. Our tenacious and motivated attorneys are ready to fight for what you deserve. 

    Filing a lawsuit can seem daunting and stressful, especially when it concerns sexual abuse. However, our legal teams and attorneys can handle your case sensitively and compassionately, and provide you with the individualized attention and support you need to move forward. Contact us today for a free and confidential case review to determine your next best steps.

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Last updated on May 01, 2023

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