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Common Questions About Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

top questions about sexual abuse lawsuit

As Chicago sexual abuse lawyers, we hear a wide range of questions from clients and family members as they navigate the heart-wrenching aftermath of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Whether the sexual abuse occurred at the hands of an educator, a healthcare provider, or a trusted member of the church clergy, sexual abuse and assault have long-lasting and devastating effects entitling victims to seek compensation through sexual abuse lawsuits.  

While every sexual abuse case has its own unique set of facts and circumstances, here are three common questions that arise involving sexual abuse lawsuits.

1. When Do I Need to File a Personal Injury Action for Sexual Abuse in Illinois?

Typically a lawsuit must be filed in the “statute of limitations.” Every state has its own statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including sexual abuse. In Illinois, in general, there is a two-year period to file a lawsuit, but that has exceptions.

The most recent enactments by the Illinois legislature recognize victims’ rights and demonstrate a broad policy of permitting the victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice for the wrongs committed against them.  Indeed, the evolution of the statute of limitations as it is applied in childhood sexual abuse cases in Illinois has developed to provide stronger protection for the victims of abuse with each enactment. 

2. Is the Statute of Limitations Different for Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases?

In Illinois, the statute of limitations to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse is different than the filing deadline for adult victims. To “know” there is a claim, a victim must discover the act occurred, and discover all the injuries from the abuse. A lawsuit must be filed within 20 years from when the victim discovers the abuse and the injury from the abuse.

It is important to note, that 20-year period does not begin to run: 

    • If the abuse victim turns the age of 18 and he or she is under a legal disability, the 20-year limitation period does not begin to run until the removal of the disability
    • If the victim of abuse is subject to threats, intimidation, manipulation, fraudulent concealment, or fraud perpetrated by the abuser or by any person acting in the interest of the abuser [735 ILCS 5/13-202.2]

3. Can I File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit if I Didn’t Pursue a Criminal Case Action?

A victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault has a right to file a civil lawsuit to hold a perpetrator and any other party responsible for protecting you from such harm, like a healthcare provider, religious organization, or property owner. The right to a civil lawsuit against the abuser(s) is not affected by whether an abuse victim appeared as a witness in criminal court, whether a police report was filed, or the existence or outcome of any criminal action.

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Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyer

If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual abuse, be sure to seek input and guidance from an experienced sexual abuse lawyer about your situation. Waiting to seek trusted legal advice could mean missing an opportunity to obtain justice and recover compensation for your injuries, including emotional pain and suffering, medical treatment, and other damages. At Vinkler Law Offices, our experienced sexual abuse attorneys help victims and their families move forward by seeking full compensation for damages caused by the perpetrator. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.