Many individuals who find themselves in the care system as children may have spent time in a foster care placement. Unfortunately, sexual and physical abuse in foster care is not uncommon.
Foster care placements can be short or long term and are often intended as a temporary alternative for a child who is unable to live with their own family. The idea behind foster care is to provide a safe, secure and caring environment in which the child can thrive. To then experience foster care abuse can have devastating lifelong consequences.
Compensation for abuse in foster care
Historically it has been difficult to pursue claims for those abused by foster parents. Such abuse cases were only likely to be successful where negligence or blame on the part of the local authority could be proven. This was often very difficult in historic cases where witnesses could no longer be traced or social services records were no longer available or were incomplete.
A change to the law in 2017 has made it much easier to bring forward a claim for compensation for abuse in foster care. The case that changed the law was brought by a woman who, having been taken into care by Nottingham City Council at age seven, suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse by foster parents she was placed with. The court held the local authority responsible for the foster care abuse.
This similar to employers being automatically responsible for the actions of their employees acting within the course of their employment. It was the first time this principle had been extended to foster care abuse.
How do I make a foster care abuse claim?
The process for making foster care abuse claims is similar to bringing forward a personal injury claim. We will first gather any necessary evidence. You may need to attend a medical examination so that a specialist expert can give an opinion on how any abuse in the foster care system has affected you.
Compensation for abuse in foster care tends to fall into two parts – compensation for the:
- Actual physical or sexual assaults
- Effect this has had on you and your life
Your solicitor will advise you as to the likely level of compensation you may receive.
What are the differences between civil and criminal foster care abuse claims?
Civil claims for compensation are different from criminal cases. In a criminal case, the police can investigate your allegations with a view to pursuing criminal charges against the individuals by whom you were abused.
The outcome of any criminal investigation will be relevant to the foster care abuse claim we pursue for you. Evidence or convictions secured in the criminal case will assist with your compensation claim.
It is very uncommon for civil claims for compensation to end up in court and most cases settle out of court, long before any final hearing.
How can Jordans help?
There are likely to be many individuals out there who may have been told in the past that they cannot claim for abuse in foster care or that there was not enough evidence to pursue such a claim. It is important those individuals consult a solicitor again as soon as possible.
Jordans Solicitors have a dedicated team who are happy to advise confidentially and sensitively if you experienced foster care neglect or abuse. If you wish to make a claim for foster care abuse we can help you. We will guide you through the process and ensure that your foster care abuse claim is dealt with as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Foster care abuse FAQs
Could I be entitled to compensation for abuse in foster care?
If you have been the victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse in a foster care placement, you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. The prospects of succeeding with such a claim can vary greatly depending on numerous factors. Because it is such a complex area of law, it is important that you seek legal advice from an experienced abuse lawyer to gauge the likelihood of being able to claim compensation for abuse in foster care.
I have been advised in the past that I cannot claim for foster care abuse. Should I seek legal advice again?
Yes, definitely. A change to the law in 2017 has made it much easier to bring a claim for compensation for abuse in foster care forward. The legal position is now much more straight forward regarding cases involving foster care neglect and abuse. A solicitor may have advised against pursuing a claim in the past, but such a claim may now be possible.
Who will my foster abuse claim be against?
Most likely, your claim will be brought against the local authority who employed the foster carers to look after you. This will usually be the same local authority whose social services department were responsible for you. It is possible to bring a claim directly against the person who abused you in foster care if they have sufficient assets/money. This is not usually the case and foster care abuse claims against individuals can be risky.
What if the foster abuse happened many years ago?
In cases involving historic abuse, including abuse in foster care, the courts are able to allow claims to proceed outside the usual limitation deadline. This is not an automatic right and any delay in starting your claim could affect your chances of being allowed to proceed. You should therefore seek legal advice as soon as you are aware that you can make a claim.
Will my foster care abuse claim affect any police investigation that may be ongoing?
If there is a criminal case proceeding in respect of the foster care abuse, it is likely that your civil claim will be put on hold until the criminal investigation is complete. Because of the deadlines for bringing civil claims, it is important that you start your claim as soon as possible and then agree a postponement with the other parties, rather than taking no action at all. You should therefore not delay in contacting a solicitor.
How long will my claim take?
It is not uncommon for civil claims against foster parent abuse to take many years, so do not anticipate a quick payment. The amount of time a claim takes depends on many factors. An ongoing police investigation can delay cases and a lot depends on whether the defendant(s) are prepared to admit responsibility for foster care neglect or abuse from the outset.
Will I need to give evidence against my abuser in court?
The vast majority of civil claims for foster care abuse are settled out of court. However, you should be prepared to give evidence about the abuse in court if necessary. Your account of what happened is likely to be one of the strongest pieces of evidence and will hold great weight in a court room. If you do need to attend court, your lawyer will fully support you throughout.
How much compensation for abuse in foster care will I receive?
You will be able to recover compensation for abuse in foster care for physical and psychological injuries that have been caused by foster abuse. In addition, you may also be entitled to claim compensation for other losses, such as loss of earnings or treatment costs, if these can be attributed to the abuse.
How much will I be required to pay in legal costs?
During the initial interview, your lawyer will be able to assess the merits of your foster care abuse claim and advise on the most appropriate funding option for you. The vast majority of our cases run on a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, which means you do not have to pay any legal costs if your claim is unsuccessful.
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