Child sex abuse claims are some of the most tragic and important cases that any personal injury lawyer will be called upon to handle. Children who have been sexually abused often need medical treatment, and universally need lengthy and involved psychological or psychiatric treatment. Many parents are left to wonder how they will be able to pay for this kind of treatment.
Depending upon the kind of abuse and the situation where the sexual abuse occurred, homeowners insurance can sometimes provide liability coverage to satisfy the damages suffered by the abused child.
Many people do not realize that most homeowners and renters insurance policies contain general liability coverage that covers the homeowner or renter and his family for many acts of simple negligence. A simple example might be coverage for any injury caused when the homeowner accidentally hits a baseball in the air and it falls and hits one of his neighbors.
However, homeowners policies often contain many coverage exclusions. For purposes of this discussion, it must be realized that most homeowners policies contain an exclusion for intentional (i.e. non-negligent) acts. This can be a major sticking point when trying to have homeowners insurance apply to a case involving the sexual abuse of a child. After all, in most instances, the abusive act is very rarely “accidental”.
We have had success acquiring homeowners coverage in situations where we have been able to argue that abuser (oftentimes a relative or child of the homeowner) should have been supervised when around our client. When the abuser should reasonably have been supervised, we argue that the claim we are bringing is actually a negligent supervision case — and not a claim about the sexual abuse itself.
While we have been successful with this argument over the years, the insurance companies have not stood still. They have been continually changing the wording of their policies over the years, trying to defeat these claims. Nevertheless, to date we believe these claims are still valid and worthwhile.
We are honored when we are selected to represent the minor victims of sexual abuse. Call us at 407-644-4444 if you have any questions.