Children across Florida who have suffered rape, child sexual abuse, child abuse, and other personal injury often wait years to receive damages awarded by the court or juries – if they ever receive the money at all. Claims bills now before the Florida Legislature could make money available to help these victims receive the money they desperately need.
In one example, a Wellington boy, 9, was sexually assaulted by a foster child his parents had agreed to raise, not knowing the boy had suffered sexual abuse and had become a child-on-child predator. A Palm Beach County jury in 2013 found that the Florida Department of Children and Families was negligent and awarded the boy $5 million for damages and what could be a lifetime of treatment and therapy.
He’s yet to receive any money. “He’s living a life of paralysis,” said Howard Talenfeld, the attorney representing the now 22-year-old man.
The victim’s tale is similar to that of many others around Florida. Juries found state agencies negligent and awarded them damages. But because of the state’s sovereign immunity laws, monetary damage awards against state agencies or local municipalities are capped at $200,000 – unless the state Legislature passes a claims bill to fund the awards.
It’s important that the Legislature pass these claims bills so these victims of catastrophic injuries and horrific child abuse and rape can get the care and therapy needed to make their lives whole again.
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