Illinois Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations

Please note that the deadlines discussed in this article relate to Illinois only.

Almost all legal matters have a statute of limitations. This is the window of time you have to sue someone who has hurt you or with whom you have a dispute. In Illinois, the sexual assault statute of limitations is 10 years. However, the state allows a number of exceptions to the statute of limitations, so you should consult an experienced sexual assault attorney to explore your options regardless of when the abuse occurred.

A 10-year statute of limitations means you must file your lawsuit against the other person within 10 years of the abuse, or you will lose the right to file a lawsuit related to the abuse. However, the first exception applies if you were abused as a child. Minors have 10 years after their 18th birthday to bring legal action against their abuser, which means they can bring a claim based on child sexual abuse until they turn 28. If you missed this deadline, it may be difficult to file a lawsuit for your abuse, but it may still be possible.

Illinois has another exception to the statute of limitations for people who have repressed memories of their childhood abuse. Repressing memories of the abuse is a common coping mechanism for people who have experienced this type of trauma. This is especially true for victims who were children when the abuse occurred. Once a victim has recovered her memories of the abuse, she has 5 years to file a lawsuit. This is true no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. However, memories of abuse must be truly repressed or blocked. If the victim remembers the abuse but is too upset to tell anyone, the regular 10-year statute of limitations applies.

Illinois has another exception for people who were abused as children and then suffered ongoing threats, intimidation, manipulation, or fraud by the abuser or someone else acting with or for the abuser. The prescription of 10 years, or 5 years in the case of repressed memories, will not begin until the threats and intimidation cease.

Many attorneys will accept sexual assault cases on a contingency basis. This means that you do not have to pay your attorney any fees until you receive a monetary award at the end of the trial or settlement from the other party. A lawyer is more likely to take your case, especially in contingency cases, depending on who you are suing. Most sexual abuse laws are against institutions like schools and churches because these groups have insurance to pay their compensation or settlement. A lawyer is less likely to take your case if you are suing someone, such as a family member, because it can be difficult to get them to pay damages.

In Illinois, sexual assault is generally defined as a variety of sexual conduct. Actions such as rape, sexual abuse, incest, and indecent exposure are included.

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