Abused or neglected ward of state crouching in a bare room | Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC

If you experienced abuse while in a group home, foster care, or any other institutional setting, the Washington ward of state abuse lawyers at Fuller & Fuller are here to help. Compassionate, understanding, and tactful, we are here to listen to your story, provide support for your needs, and help you seek the justice you deserve.

In the state of Washington, a “ward of the state” refers to an individual—typically a minor—who has been placed under the protection of the state due to various reasons such as abandonment, abuse, neglect, or the inability of parents or guardians to provide proper care. These wards are under the legal guardianship of the state, which assumes responsibility for their welfare and decision-making.

Wards of the state may be placed in a variety of settings, with foster homes being a prevalent option. The decision on where a ward is placed is influenced by several factors aimed at ensuring the child’s best interests, safety, and well-being. These factors include the child’s age, health, emotional ties, and the availability of suitable foster care options. The goal is to provide a stable and nurturing environment that can cater to the specific needs of each child.

Despite the state’s protective role, instances of abuse and mistreatment occur with tragic frequency in foster homes, group homes, and other institutional facilities. When these inexcusable events happen, their victims have the option—even years after the incidents take place—to hold all of those responsible to full account. Wards of the state who have suffered abuse in Washington are entitled to pursue legal action, regardless of where or how frequently the abuse occurred. This legal recourse allows victims to seek justice and compensation for the long-term consequences of the gross mistreatment they have endured.

At Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC, we fight for the rights of children who have suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of foster parents, group home staff, and employees at state facilities. If you were abused or mistreated while a ward of the state of Washington, we want to hear your story, provide clear information about your options, and help you seek the full compensation you are due.

To schedule a FREE and confidential consultation at our Olympia or Tacoma location, please call (800) 570-4878 or contact us online right away. We fight for victims of foster care abuse in Bellevue, DuPont, and throughout Washington.

Types of Abuse a Ward of the State May Encounter

Wards of the state, while under the guardianship and care of foster parents or governmental agencies, are often swept to the margins, making them much more vulnerable to all types of abuse and mistreatment. While no type of abuse is without its immediate and long-term consequences, different types may have various impacts on the physical and emotional well-being of victims. Understanding how abuse has and will continue to impact former wards of state is an essential component in determining how best to proceed with these claims.

Our Washington ward of state abuse lawyer is here to help individuals who have suffered from:

  • Physical Abuse. This includes hitting, beating, slapping, unnecessary physical restraint, or any other physical harm inflicted upon the ward.
  • Sexual Abuse. This can include inappropriate touching, exposure to sexual acts, sexual assault, and anything that is sexual in nature.
  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse. This includes verbal assaults, threats, humiliation, intentional neglect of emotional needs, and other tactics designed to instill fear, diminish self-esteem, or manipulate the victim.
  • Neglect. This includes failure to meet essential needs such as providing adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and emotional nurturing.

It is the responsibility of caregivers—regardless of their role—to protect the vulnerable population that depends on them for safety and care. When they fail to do so or perpetuate the abuse themselves, victims are entitled to hold them accountable and seek the justice and healing they deserve.

The Right to Take Civil Action

Two types of action can be taken against people who abuse or mistreat wards of state in Washington: criminal and civil.

Criminal proceedings aim to address violations of law by seeking to punish the offender. In these cases, the state, through its prosecutors, charges the perpetrator with crimes that have been committed. The primary goal is to hold the abuser accountable through penalties such as imprisonment, fines, or other forms of state-imposed punishment.

Civil actions provide a path for victims to seek redress for the wrongs done to them. Unlike criminal cases—where the focus is on punishment—civil lawsuits center on compensating the victim for the harm they’ve endured. Civil lawsuits can provide financial compensation to support the victim’s recovery process, including funding for medical treatment, counseling, and other necessary rehabilitation services. These actions can also seek damages for less tangible concerns, such as pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.

Wards of the state, including those in foster care, have the right to initiate civil lawsuits against their abusers or the institutions that failed in their duty to protect them from harm. Taking civil action offers a path to personal healing and recovery. These actions can also impact systemic change by highlighting and addressing failures within the system that allowed the abuse to occur. They are an empowering step for survivors, giving them a voice and an opportunity to advocate for themselves in a legal setting.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Ward of State Abuse in Washington?

The statute of limitations for taking action against abusive foster caregivers and others charged with the care of wards of state can be complex. While three years from the date of the victim’s 18th birthday is typically cited, numerous exceptions and extensions can apply, including “discovery” in instances where abuse is repressed or its effects are not immediately known. If you were the victim of abuse or mistreatment while a ward of the state in Washington, talking to an experienced attorney is the best way to determine how to proceed with your claim.

Childhood Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations in Washington

In 2019, the statute of limitations for criminal charges following certain types of sexual abuse was updated to remove or significantly extend the state’s ability to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. The expansion was, sadly, not retroactive. Nor did it expand the right of victims to seek redress through civil proceedings following abuse.

During the 2023 legislative session, HB1618 was introduced to remove the statute of limitations on civil proceedings involving childhood sexual abuse as well. This bill has passed the House and the Senate but, as of this writing, is awaiting action on the part of the governor. Should the bill be adopted, the statute of limitations on civil actions may also be extended or removed entirely from these particular cases. The statute of limitations on other types of abuse and mistreatment is, however, not impacted by this bill.

Our Ward of State Abuse Lawyer Is Here to Help

At Fuller & Fuller, we understand that survivors of ward of state abuse require more than just legal assistance; they need advocates who are sensitive to their trauma and committed to their recovery. Attorney Marya Fuller combines her extensive knowledge of the legal system with an understanding and compassionate approach, helping to ensure that each client feels supported and empowered throughout their legal journey. We recognize the bravery it takes to come forward and are honored to fight for those who have suffered at the hands of abusive foster parents and caregivers.

Our primary goal is to secure justice for our clients, along with the full compensation they deserve for the harm they have endured. This includes both addressing immediate legal needs and considering the long-term impact of the abuse. Our Washington ward of state abuse lawyers meticulously prepare each case, from gathering evidence to representing clients in court, ensuring that every aspect of the abuse is considered and the responsible parties are held accountable.

Our firm has a proven track record of success in handling cases of abuse within the foster care system in Washington. We are here to help bring much-needed closure and financial support to our clients, while simultaneously pushing for systemic changes that help protect future wards of state from similar abuses.

Contact Our Washington Ward of State Abuse Lawyer for a FREE and Confidential Consultation Today

If you suffered abuse while in foster care or as a ward of the state, Fuller & Fuller is here to help. Contact us online or call us for a FREE and confidential case evaluation and let us help you understand your rights, your options, and the best way to seek the justice you are due.

by Fuller & Fuller Attorneys at Law
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Foster Care Abuse