Every year, about 10 million men and women are abused in the US. To be specific, this means about one in three women and one in four men are victims of abuse by intimate partners. The stats for domestic abuse are alarming. If you’re interested in these stats, check the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.
Abusive relationship in this context isn’t just limited to physical abuse, it can be emotional, psychological and mental. This is why abuse can be very hard to detect –particularly when there isn’t any physical component- by unsuspecting individuals.
In fact, this is how many people get away with abusing their intimate partners or children. And when they eventually get down to the physical part of the abuse, they only hurt them in parts that their victims must cover during the course of the day –essentially lowering the odds of their abuse being evident.
Even worse is the fact that the abused often tend to be quite, secretive and unwilling to talk about it out of fear or some twisted form of loyalty. It often needs the expertise of a practiced eye –mostly previous abuse victims, social workers, and an attorney that understands domestic violence and abuse- to be able to get a victim to finally open up.
Usually, by the time it gets to the point where victims seek help by talking to social workers, hiring domestic violence attorneys, chances are that the abuse had been happening for a long time and they have just been able to summon the courage needed to tell someone.
For many, this usually happens when their lives and/or that of loved ones like their children have been threatened. The good thing is that because it has been going on for a long time, building a case against the abuser can be done.
Can You Sue Your Abuser?
The law courts provide ample opportunities for victims of domestic violence and people in abusive relationships. If there’s evidence that you sustained some injuries as a result of their direct actions, you can sue them. This is particularly important for physical acts of aggression and intent to injure or cause harm. Not only can the abuser be criminally liable, you can also bring a civil liability case against them. The latter is possible courtesy of personal injury laws designed to protect and empower victims of domestic abuse.
Filing a Personal Injury Case Against a Family Member Because of Domestic Violence
For victims of domestic violence, we often recommend that they quickly report any domestic assault or incident to the nearest police station and get a restraining order against them. We know it’s difficult because of the emotional attachments, family, children, investments and so on. But, if you do value your life and that of your children/loved ones, and the relationship is doing you a lot of harm, this might be the necessary thing to do.
In the past, the courts didn’t encourage lawsuits against family members. This law was aimed at helping families stay together. This therefore, resulted in prolonged abuse by the dominant party in the relationship. Well, this is no longer the case in some states. The thinking is that if interpersonal relationships between family members have degenerated so badly that one party feels the need to file a torts claim against another, the family might as well be broken, and there’s no need for them to keep staying together. So, if a family member feels the need to take another member to court on the basis of abuse, then the plaintiff, should be able to do so. This is why courts are nor more liberal in allowing family members to bring personal injury claims against each other; particularly when the injuries were as a direct result of domestic violence.
Most of the states in the country with the exception of Utah, Delaware, Washington D.C, Louisiana, Iowa, Wyoming, Illinois, Missouri, Hawaii, Texas, Arizona, and Ohio allow tort claims against family members. The listed states however, would clearly allow personal injury claims cases against family members if it’s clearly established the abuser intentionally and deliberately inflicted injuries on the victim.
In the courts, domestic violence isn’t just limited to assault and battery. They also consider psychological abuse and emotional distress caused by the actions or words of the abuser. For instance, if a family member is guilty of threatening, stalking and damaging the victim’s properties, that would also be grounds for a tort claim.
What Damages Can You File For?
• The abused in a relationship can often file for one or more of the following damages:
• Medical bills and costs arising from treatment after abuse
• Lost income and wages caused by abuse resulting in an inability to secure and keep a job
• Pain and suffering, whether physical, emotional or psychological
This is possible on the grounds that consistent abuse is usually about power and control on the part of the abuser, and helplessness and fear on the part of the abused. Suing for these damages can help the abused regain some control and get rid of the fear that might have resulted in one or more of the aforementioned damages.
If you are a victim of abuse in your relationships and need help, our domestic violence attorneys at Heil Law can help. Get in touch today.