Is It Worth It?

Only the survivor of sexual assault can decide whether bringing a lawsuit will be worthwhile, weighing the likelihood of a successful outcome against the difficulties of going through the court process.

The advice of a lawyer experienced in these cases will help the survivor make the decision, especially if there is a strong case (such as prior criminal conviction), damages are significant, and a potential defendant has financial means. The lawyer can advise the client of his or her legal rights and remedies and explain how lawsuits work. The lawyer will also assess the likelihood of success and the range of any potential damages to be awarded. The lawyer can represent the client in litigation, arbitration or mediation, and conduct settlement negotiations on the client’s behalf.

Facts about sexual assault lawsuits

  • The number of large damages awards is rising, especially in cases of incest occurring over several years.
  • In assessing general damages for pain and suffering, the courts consider: the nature of the acts, the duration of the assaults, the resulting harm, the survivor’s age, and the impact on the survivor's life, including his or her education and career.
  • General damages can range from a few thousand dollars for a single offence by a stranger to $250,000 or more for the most serious incest cases.
  • Survivors can be awarded damages to cover the cost of past and future therapy, as well as damages for past and future income losses in some cases.
  • The courts may also award substantial ‘punitive damages’ to punish the offender. They are less likely to do this if the abuser has been criminally convicted and punished.
  • Other individuals may have claims against the abuser or responsible parties. For example, under the Family Law Act, the survivor's parents or other family members may have claims for loss of care, companionship and guidance due to the assault. Family members may be awarded some damages for the extra support they need to give the survivor.

Date

Type

Title

Related People

Related Services

August 2022

Presentation

Confidentiality Agreements

Aug 2022 OTLA webinar 

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2022

Presentation

Sexual Assault Proceedings

John Howard Society Learning Session 

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2022

Presentation

Criminal and Civil Legal Proceedings

Abuse Hurts Hope Conference Series: LEARN

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2022

Article

The New Tort of Family Violence

Money & Family Law Publication

Loretta P. Merritt

January 2022

Article

NDAs and Gag Orders in Sexual Misconduct Cases

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2021

Presentation

Ontario Trial Lawyers – Women Lawyers Roundtable: Effective Business Development

November 2021

Presentation

The Psychologist as Expert Witness: Report Writing and Testifying

Ontario Psychological Association’s 74th Annual Conference

Loretta P. Merritt

November 2021

Article

Institutional Response to Disclosure of Sexual Abuse

Loretta P. Merritt

August 2021

Article

Privacy in Civil Sexual Assault Cases

Loretta P. Merritt

June 2021

Article

Summary of Ontario Class Actions for Historical Abuse

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2021

Presentation

Practicing in the Pandemic: The New Normal

OTLA Spring Conference

Loretta P. Merritt

April 2021

Presentation

Making the Most of Expert Evidence

OTLA Webinar

Loretta P. Merritt

March 2021

Article

Economic Losses in Civil Sexual Assault Cases

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2021

Presentation

Civil Sexual Assault: Critical and Emerging Issues

Osgoode Professional Development

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2021

Presentation

Mentoring

Torkin Manes

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2021

Presentation

Compensation and Financial Management

Torkin Manes - Justicia Committee

Loretta P. Merritt

January 2021

Presentation

Imposter Syndrome

Torkin Manes - Justicia Committee

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2020

Presentation

Financial Management of Your Practice

Torkin Manes

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2020

Article

Publication Bans: Do They Help or Hurt Abuse Survivors?

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2020

Presentation

Litigating Class Actions Claims Amidst Profound Change

12th Annual Class Actions Colloquium presented by the Canadian Bar Association

Loretta P. Merritt

October 2020

Presentation

Sexual Abuse: Developing a Claim for Vicarious Liability

OTLA 2020 Fall Conference

Loretta P. Merritt

July 2020

Presentation

Civil Sexual Assault - Practical Considerations - Civil litigation and other options beyond criminal charges

OTLA Webinar

Loretta P. Merritt

July 2020

Article

School Board Liability for Sexual Assaults by Teacher

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2020

Presentation

Girao v. Cunningham: Latest Word on Trial Evidence by the Ontario Court of Appeal

Torkin Manes

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2020

Presentation

Sexual Assault: Credibility and Memory Issues

OTLA Webinar

Loretta P. Merritt

Items 1 to 25 of 91

Loretta P. Merritt quoted by <em>The New York Times</em> on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal

by Melissa Partland | Nov 01, 2021
Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.

Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.


With Accusations of Abuse, Kyle Beach Forces N.H.L. to Confront Its Failings

The cultural problems of hockey seem to have met a moment that makes them impossible to ignore, and when consequences — however belatedly — are finally being meted out.

One day after an investigation commissioned by the Chicago Blackhawks publicly disclosed that the team’s top officials had ignored a player’s accusation of sexual assault by a coach during the 2010 playoffs, that player was revealed to be Kyle Beach.

Organizations that ignored or cover up reports of sexual assault are not unique to hockey. But these problems can be heightened in hockey, or in other sports that Loretta Merritt, a Canadian lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse, described as the “more macho boys club kind of sports.” Merritt wondered if hockey’s culture made Aldrich, who has said his sexual contact with Beach was consensual, “think there is sort of more of a tolerance or willingness to turn a blind eye. Possibly.”

To read the full article, please visit The New York Times' website.

Loretta P. Merritt quoted by <em>The New York Times</em> on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal

by Melissa Partland | Nov 01, 2021
Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.

Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.


With Accusations of Abuse, Kyle Beach Forces N.H.L. to Confront Its Failings

The cultural problems of hockey seem to have met a moment that makes them impossible to ignore, and when consequences — however belatedly — are finally being meted out.

One day after an investigation commissioned by the Chicago Blackhawks publicly disclosed that the team’s top officials had ignored a player’s accusation of sexual assault by a coach during the 2010 playoffs, that player was revealed to be Kyle Beach.

Organizations that ignored or cover up reports of sexual assault are not unique to hockey. But these problems can be heightened in hockey, or in other sports that Loretta Merritt, a Canadian lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse, described as the “more macho boys club kind of sports.” Merritt wondered if hockey’s culture made Aldrich, who has said his sexual contact with Beach was consensual, “think there is sort of more of a tolerance or willingness to turn a blind eye. Possibly.”

To read the full article, please visit The New York Times' website.