Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Cases in Illinois
Sexual abuse, especially where minor children are involved, is a very sensitive area of the law. If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual abuse and wish to initiate legal action against the abuser, there are certain time limits you have for filing a lawsuit, referred to as statutes of limitation. Please note that there are some exceptions to what you read here. If you have questions on the time limits to sue or would like a lawyer recommendation please
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Statutes of limitation restrict the time period that a person can file a lawsuit and vary by state-to-state as well as by the type of legal action involved. In Illinois, the statute of limitation for sexual abuse is 10 years, however several exceptions apply. Victim's age at time of abuse
If the victim was a minor at the time of abuse, the limitations period is tolled, meaning it is set aside and put on hold until the minor reaches age 18. Once the victim reaches age 18, the statute of limitations period begins and the legal action for the abuse must be brought within 10 years, or by the time the victim reaches age 28.
For example, victim was sexually abused at age 14 and now at age 25 wants to bring a lawsuit against her abuser. She is permitted to do so because even though it has been over 10 years since she was abused, it has not been 10 years since she turned 18 (when the statute of limitations period begins to run).
However, if a minor is emancipated from his or her parents before they reach age 18, the statute of limitations period begins to run at the time he or she is emancipated. For example, victim was sexually abused at age 10. Victim was legally emancipated from her parents at age 16. Now victim is 27 and wants to bring a lawsuit against her abuser. The statute of limitations will bar victim from bringing a lawsuit because she waited longer than the 10 years beyond the time she was emancipated from her parents. Of course most people don't get emancipated which would make the time limit to file your 28th birthday.
Another exception to the general 10-year statute of limitations applies when victims of childhood sexual abuse have repressed the memory of the abuse. When a child experiences a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse, it may not be until well into adulthood that they remember the incident. Once a victim has recovered memories of the abuse and realized the damages cause by the abuse, they have 5 years to bring a lawsuit.
For example, a child is abused at age 12 by her father but represses the memory in order for to cope and maintain attachment to her father whom she is dependent for survival. She doesn't recall the abuse and the damage until she is age 35. Even though the victim is well over the age of 28, if she is able to show evidence of clinically repressed memories, she will have 5 years to commence an action. However, had the victim stayed quiet because of embarrassment or fear, this exception does not apply.
Most sexual abuse lawsuits are taken on a contingency basis, meaning you don't have to pay your attorney until you receive a monetary award from the other party. Lawyers are more willing to take your case on a contingency basis if you are suing an institution, such as churches or schools, because these groups have insurance to pay your award or settlement. It is more difficult to find an attorney for your case if you are suing a relative because it is harder to recover from someone who doesn't have insurance to pay for a judgment.
This, however, should not discourage you from seeking an attorney. Sexual abuse is a very emotional and highly sensitive issue. If you would like our help in answering your questions and finding an experienced attorney please do not hesitate to
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