In addition to seeking criminal prosecution against the perpetrator, victims of sexual abuse in New Hampshire have the right to bring a civil case to obtain just compensation for their injuries. In New Hampshire, the statute of limitations for such claims is three years. However, if the victim is under the age of 18, they will typically have until their 30th birthday to bring a civil lawsuit against those responsible. Typically, the perpetrator of the sexual assault, rape or abuse does not possess personal assets sufficient to justify long and difficult civil litigation. Moreover, even if the perpetrator has insurance, such as a homeowners policy, such insurance will not provide coverage for intentional wrongful conduct such as sexual assault. The cases which carry the highest chances of a successful result are those brought against institutional defendants. This class of defendants include employers of the perpetrator, schools, day care centers, boy scout troops or camps, churches and religious organizations, agencies who provide services to children or disabled adults, and a variety of other companies or institutions who wrongfully employ or harbor perpetrators. Generally, in order to succeed in one of these cases, it is necessary to prove that the institution exercised a certain level of control over the perpetrator, i.e., hiring, training and retaining. It is also necessary to show that the institution knew or should have known of the propensity of the perpetrator to sexually abuse others. Finally, it is also typically necessary to show that the institution owed a duty of care to the victim – a duty to protect. These cases are always very emotional, and can be difficult to prove and to litigate. In a case where the allegations can be proven, however, and where the legal requirements of civil liability can be established, the filing of a civil action can provide the sexual abuse victim both with validation and a sense of closure, and also financial compensation from the responsible party for the terrible and life long impact of sexual abuse. A personal injury lawyer or attorney experienced in these cases and familiar with New Hampshire law can provide sound advice and counsel to a victim survivor of abuse about their potential right to seek civil justice.
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