Suing an Abuser
You may have a right to seek justice from the abuser through the court system where you live. When people are injured by others, they are permitted to seek what the law refers to as “damages,” in the form of money, for such things as medical bills, lost wages or employment, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and, in some cases, to punish the abuser.
Note: If you are a victim of stalking (as defined by law, here), you can sue the stalker for money damages (actual damages suffered as well as possible punitive damages), reasonable attorney’s fees, and court costs. You must prove that the stalker committed a course of conduct that would place a reasonable person (in your position) under emotional distress or in fear for his/her safety or for another person’s safety.1 You can sue him/her whether or not the stalker was arrested, charged or convicted of the crime of stalking.2 You must file the lawsuit within a year or less after the most recent act of stalking committed against you.3
Normally, to sue someone for damages, a person may likely need the help of a lawyer. Some lawyers will take a case like this for a “contingent fee.” That means the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you win in court, and then s/he takes some percent, usually a third, of whatever damages the judge orders. Sometimes the judge will order the defendant to pay for your attorney’s fees.
If your damages are below a certain amount, you may be able to file on your own in small claims court. Small claims court is a less formal type of court, and many people are able to go to small claims court without the help of an attorney.
In Arkansas, you may file in small claims court on your own for anything that is $5,000 or less. If you want to sue for more, you will have to file in regular district court and may need the help of a lawyer. You may talk to the clerk of court for help in filing a law suit in small claims court. For additional information on Arkansas Small Claims court your can visit this page published by the Arkansas Attorney General.
If you need help in finding a lawyer who can take your case for a contingent fee, contact:
National Crime Victim Bar Association
2000 M Street NW, Suite 480
Washington, D.C. 20036
Lawyer Referral Line: 800-FYI-CALL
Offers information and lawyer referrals to crime victims seeking to sue offenders.
1 AR Code § 16-127-102(a)
2 AR Code § 16-127-102(c)
3 AR Code § 16-127-102(e)