Suing an Abuser for Money
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.
Each state has its own laws on these subjects, but for the most part, they are similar when it comes to injuries from abuse. To sue, you may need the help of a lawyer. Some lawyers will take a case like this for a “contingent fee,” which means that the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you win in court, and then s/he takes a percentage of whatever money you are awarded. (Usually, the percentage for the contingency fee is one third of the money awarded at the end of the lawsuit.)
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 Missouri, you can file in small claims court for an amount of money that is $5,000 or less.1 Note: In Missouri, you are not allowed to sue for the return of goods or property in small claims court.2 If you want to sue for more, you will have to file in regular civil court. Then, you may need the help of a lawyer. You can find the forms to file in small claims court on the Missouri Courts website.
If you are a victim who needs help finding a lawyer who can take your case for a contingent fee, you can contact the National Crime Victim Bar Association, which offers lawyer referrals to crime victims seeking to sue offenders.
1 MO ST § 482.305
2 See the Missouri Courts website