For decades, Louisiana clergy abuse repeatedly happened to thousands of people who trusted an institution that should have kept them safe. Instead, heinous crimes were committed by clergy members and staff who sexually abused children and adults and got away with it. In many cases, Louisiana clergy abuse claims were covered up and ignored by the Catholic Church, doing nothing to protect victims or stop the cycle of abuse. Often, claims of this kind prompted the accused to simply be moved to another community, putting other vulnerable and trusting individuals at risk.
But in recent years, clergy abuse scandals have made headlines in Louisiana, exposing a widespread, disturbing reality that has seen an influx of victims come forward to seek compensation and accountability. The problem is so prevalent in the U.S. that dozens of Archdioceses, including the Archdiocese of New Orleans, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amidst mounting clergy abuse lawsuits.
Those who were abused can file a claim for compensation and hold abusers accountable, as well as any institution that ignored or allowed it to occur. A civil clergy abuse lawsuit may be the only way to do this since few predators end up in prison.
A Louisiana clergy abuse lawsuit can provide much-needed support to survivors, even if the abuse happened years ago. Since the state removed the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims and introduced a three-year lookback window for victims who had previously passed the deadline to make a claim, getting legal representation is crucial. The lookback window allows adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse who passed the previous statute of limitations to file a civil lawsuit until June 14, 2024. It doesn’t matter how old the victim is now. The window has led to thousands of Louisiana clergy abuse lawsuits, and as the deadline approaches, it’s essential to speak with an attorney sooner than later.
But how do you find a clergy abuse lawyer in Louisiana? Many people have never needed a lawyer, especially for these circumstances. To help survivors seek legal representation, we’ve compiled a list of factors to consider when hiring an attorney.
Choosing the Right Clergy Abuse Attorney
Sexual abuse is deeply personal and traumatic and can have lasting effects. Telling a friend or loved one is extremely difficult, let alone reporting the crime to the police or contacting an attorney. Clergy abuse lawsuits require specific skills and experience to win your case, but not all personal injury lawyers specialize in this area of law. Because of this, knowing what to look for and the questions you should ask a lawyer is key and can help ensure you get the best results from a civil lawsuit and that your legal rights are protected. When finding a Louisiana clergy abuse lawyer, consider the following.
Empathy and Comfort
One of the most important parts of finding a clergy abuse attorney is ensuring you’re comfortable with them. Given how personal this trauma is, feeling you can trust in your lawyer and provide the level of openness needed when they build your case is vital. But this can only be achieved if they offer an empathetic and safe environment for you to share what’s likely your deepest pain.
The best lawyer for your lawsuit knows and respects how difficult it is for survivors to come forward. To find a Louisiana clergy abuse lawyer, look for warmth, compassion, and dedication, all qualities that will help make you comfortable as you bravely pursue justice.
Experience with Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Experience is a core part of finding a Louisiana clergy abuse lawyer. Attorneys specialize in different types of cases, known as practice areas. The lawyer you hire for your clergy abuse lawsuit should have experience handling similar cases because there are specific laws and other factors that affect the outcome and strength of a claim. A law firm’s website is an excellent place to start since it will highlight their practice areas, but you should also ask about the types of cases they’ve handled during the free consultation.
A clergy abuse attorney should be forthcoming about how many other clients they’ve represented in similar situations and how their previous case experience will be an asset. Their experience should give you peace of mind and confidence in how your sexual abuse lawsuit will be handled, ultimately adding to your overall comfort. Find someone else if a lawyer can’t clearly detail their experience or sidesteps your questions.
In addition, it’s crucial to find a Louisiana clergy abuse lawyer with trial experience. While many claims are settled out of court, the best attorney for your claim is always ready for trial if a fair settlement can’t be reached during negotiations. But going to trial and winning a clergy abuse lawsuit takes specific skills, and your lawyer should have this experience.
Whoever handles your Louisiana clergy abuse lawsuit should have a proven success record of favorable settlements and jury awards. Established attorneys who frequently “win,” whether in court or at the negotiating table, will share their successes with potential clients. Ask questions about how they’ve been successful and gotten the compensation their clients deserve.
Avoid firms that seem to go for quick and easy results. The sexual abuse lawyer you hire should be willing to discuss basic details of the settlements they’ve gotten for clients in similar situations. Clergy abuse lawsuits are complex, and you deserve to be represented by a legal team that’s proven its abilities.
Strong Communication Skills
Sexual abuse lawsuits affect survivors on an emotional level. They require those harmed to share deeply personal and upsetting information and delve into how trauma has impacted their lives.
Due to the nature of these claims, your clergy abuse lawyer must have great communication skills. They should clearly explain what’s expected of you and keep you in the loop from the first consultation until your claim is settled or the trial is finished. The goals of the case should also be discussed and agreed upon when hiring a clergy abuse lawyer. All of this cultivates a safe place and trust in your representation.
Positive Reviews and Reputation
Reputation is another important factor when finding a clergy abuse lawyer. Knowing the experiences of others who have worked with the attorney, especially those with similar cases, provides valuable insight into their reputation and successes. While getting a referral from someone you know and trust is a great place to start looking, many survivors of sexual abuse don’t have a connection like this.
Instead, you can look online for reviews of Louisiana clergy abuse lawyers, and many law firms have client testimonials on their websites. Looking at both review sites and the firm’s website will give you a sense of whether other people who used their services had good or bad experiences. But look beyond the numbers; read the reviews to learn as much as possible.
Clergy abuse survivors looking for an attorney can get an even deeper look into their industry involvement and specialties when researching online. Have they published articles on similar cases? Are they involved in advocacy for victims of sexual abuse? The more information you have, the better.
Free Consultation and Contingency Fee Basis
As a survivor who wants to find a Louisiana clergy abuse attorney, only look for those who offer free case consultations. They allow you to ask questions, determine if you feel comfortable, and assess if they’re equipped to handle your case and have experience with similar lawsuits. If an attorney says there’s a consultation fee, don’t bother meeting with them.
Also, clergy abuse lawyers should work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you do. Ask what percentage of the settlement or jury award they’ll take as payment for their services, and ensure this detail is in the contract. Payment needs to be based on whether or not the attorney wins your case, not only because legal fees add up quickly but it ensures they’re motivated and determined to make sure your clergy abuse lawsuit is successful.
When you find a Louisiana clergy abuse lawyer, they should have specific resources at their disposal to build your case. They should have connections to hire experts and commit the time to make a strong case through a thorough investigation. Ask who will be working on your case, the steps they’ll take, and what resources they’ll leverage throughout the legal process.
But there are other resources your clergy abuse lawyer should have. At Herman Herman Katz, we help clients with the legal aspect of their cases and focus on ensuring they have access to vital services and treatments. We can connect survivors with resources like counselors to help cope with the effects of sexual abuse. We understand that this type of trauma is life-changing and that getting physical and emotional help can make a huge difference for survivors. Helping clients in every way possible is one of our top priorities when handling clergy abuse lawsuits.
Contact HHK Clergy Abuse Lawyers
The team of lawyers at Herman Herman Katz is currently handling Louisiana clergy abuse lawsuits. We have the resources needed to get the best results from your claim and have highly experienced sexual abuse lawyers that have represented adult and child victims of sexual abuse.
Our Louisiana clergy abuse lawyers are dedicated to holding abusers within the Church accountable for the harm they caused innocent victims. We have the skills, passion, and success rate needed to ensure our clients are properly compensated and offer a confidential space for survivors to come forward.
We know it takes courage to file a clergy abuse lawsuit. We value the trust our clients place in us and will work tirelessly to get what you deserve. Contact us online or call 1-844-943-7626 for a free consultation.
Soren E. Gisleson, is a Partner at Herman, Herman & Katz, L.L.C. and attorney advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.