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Sex Abuse Cases Against WA State DSHS

The state of Washington has a long history of caring for children in need. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is responsible for the safety of these children, but they have failed to protect them from sexual abuse. If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse under WA State DHSHS care, you may have a case against it.

At Herschensohn Law, we believe it’s important to hold those accountable for their negligence so that cases like these never happen again. We are committed to helping victims of DSHS sexual abuse get the compensation they deserve. You can learn more about how our Kent sex abuse attorneys can help you seek justice when you contact us for a free consultation. Dial (206) 588-4344 today.

Can I File a Case Against WA DSHS for Sex Abuse?

Yes. If you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse while under WA State DHSHS care, you may be eligible to file a case against them and get the justice you deserve.

The state agency can investigate the claim, and they may offer a settlement if they find evidence of sexual abuse. If you don’t agree with the settlement, you may proceed to negotiations or a trial if you cannot find common ground.

The Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse Cases in Washington

The statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse in Washington is much broader than one would expect. RCW 4.16.340 extended how long abuse victims have to take legal action. Survivors have three years from “the time that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought.” 

However, since child victims may not understand what they experienced for many years, the statute pauses until the child has turned 18 and allows three years from the date “the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by said act…or the victim discovered that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought.”

This can make it very difficult to determine when the statute of limitations expires in your case. I would very much like to speak to you about your claim and help to make the determination of whether you have a viable claim.

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Damages You Can Seek in a Sex Abuse Case Against WA State DHSH


If the WA State DSHS bears responsibility for the sexual abuse you suffered, you may be entitled to collect damages from them. Common damages sexual abuse survivors suffer include:

  • Medical bills for current and future care
  • Therapy and counseling expenses
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Mental and emotional anguish
  • Pain and suffering

Compensation for these damages can help you cope with this trauma and rebuild your life.


Factors That May Contribute to Sex Abuse Cases Against WA State DSHS

Many factors contribute to sex abuse in the WA State DSHS. One of these factors is the lack of funding. If a residential care facility doesn’t have enough money, they don’t have the resources to hire and train staff properly. This can lead to cases of sexual abuse in group homes. Understaffing is another cause. When there are too few people working at a residential care facility, it puts everyone at risk for neglect or abuse.

Incompetent background checks can also play a role in sex abuse cases in WA State DSHS. The DSHS must ensure staff has no prior criminal convictions to protect the residents. This is especially true if their past crimes were related to sexual abuse or other forms of violence. Equally, poor background checks can inadvertently lead to children being placed in homes with sex abusers like Rick Hazel.

A lack of communication between staff and residents can lead to cases of sexual abuse in residential care facilities. If the staff doesn’t know what activities the children are engaging in or where they are at all times, it can be difficult to prevent abuse.

What Is Sex Abuse?

WA DSHS sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is any type of unwanted sexual contact. Sexual contact includes vaginal penetration, oral sex, and anal sex. It can also include a perpetrator touching a victim against their will. All types of sexual contact between a foster parent and a minor foster child are considered sexual abuse, even if the minor wanted the contact.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Signs that someone has sustained sexual abuse include:

  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Mood swings, aggression, or anxiety
  • Bed-wetting, nightmares, or sleep-walking
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns 
  • Sexual knowledge or curiosity 
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Extreme fear of specific people 
  • Fear of certain places or situations 
  • Being withdrawn or detached from loved ones 
  • Self-harm

Survivors of sexual abuse are also at a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and suicide.

Having a Lawyer Help File Your Sex Abuse Case Against WA State DSHS

Anyone can understand that grappling with the abuse you’ve endured is devastating. Taking legal action while you’re trying to heal from this trauma can be too difficult, so you may want to have a sexual abuse attorney lead your case.

On your behalf, they can:

  • Collect and review relevant medical records and other evidence
  • Interview experts and specialists about your case
  • Take witness statements
  • Prove liability
  • Manage communication with anyone else involved with your case
  • File a claim, complaint, and/or lawsuit
  • Take on settlement negotiations
  • Represent you in a trial, if needed

Many lawyers who take sexual abuse cases work on contingency. Under this fee agreement, they only receive their payment if they obtain compensation for you. That way, you don’t have to pay anything up front or out of pocket.

Call Us Today for Help with Your Abuse Case Against WA State DSHS

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse because of WA State DSHS’s negligence, our sex abuse attorneys in Kent can help you pursue justice. While you focus on rebuilding your life after going through such a traumatic event, we investigate your case, hold the liable party accountable, and seek a favorable outcome for you.

Reach out to Herschensohn Law today at (206) 588-4344 for a free case review.

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Hurt? Let our law firm handle the details

When you request your free consultation, Kent personal injury attorney Zach Herschensohn will listen to you, answer your questions, lay out your legal options, and give you down-to-earth legal advice.

When you work with our law office, there are no obligations, hidden fees, or fine print. It’s that simple.

Request your free case evaluation

We’ll meet with you to help you understand your legal options and what to do next.

Enter your contact information:

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