Statute of Limitations Removed from Sexual Assault Cases
Since the beginning of our country’s legal system, some time frame of limitation has been attached to most civil lawsuit claims, including those claims for sexual abuse to a child. By definition, a “Statute of Limitations” is a law that sets the maximum amount of time that a victim/injured person/Plaintiff has to bring a claim against the at-fault party/defendant. Depending on the type of injury or offense sustained, the statute of limitations can range anywhere between one year from the date of the incident to 5 years. This means that beginning on the date of the incident, a victim only has a certain amount of time to bring a lawsuit and attempt to recover against the perpetrator. Once the statute of limitations runs out, the victim is barred from filing a lawsuit and barred from recovering against the at-fault party.
Changes to Illinois State Law Eliminating the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault Crimes
In 2020 Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law House Bill 2135 officially removing the 3-year statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault and similar sex abuse crimes. Prior to this bill, victims of sexual assault had 3 years, starting with the date of the incident, to report the crime to police and/or bring a civil claim against the offender. Once the 3 years past, the victim did not have the ability to sue the offender in civil court for damages. House Bill 2135 completely eliminated any time limit to report these crimes. A sexual abuse victim can now bring a civil suit against the offender at any point in the future without limit.
House Bill 2135 also eliminates the 10-year limit given to police to bring a case against and prosecute a sexual assault offender for their crimes. Prior to the bill, the police had a 10-year limit, starting with the date of the reported incident, to prosecute the offender. After the 10 years was up, the offender could not be found criminally liable for the assault. Now this limit has been removed, meaning police can bring a criminal case against a sexual abuser at any point after it is reported to them.
This new law allows sexual assault victims to take as much time as needed before filing a civil lawsuit against their abuser. Many times, victims of sexual assault are unable to comprehend the abuse they received and/or are too scared to speak about it. Illinois House Bill 2135 relieves victims of the additional pressure to file a suit within a required time limit.
Indiana State Law Concerning Statute of Limitations – Civil Cases
The current state law in Indiana regarding sexual assault is divided into two categories: sexual assault against minors and sexual assault against adults. Sexual assault against childhood victims presents a longer statute of limitations than many other states. If an individual is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, they are required to file their civil lawsuit against their offender within:
- Seven years of their 18th birthday – or once they turn 25,
- Seven years from the time they could have reasonably discovered the abuse, or
- Four years from the end of their dependency on an abuser.
Cases involving an adult who has been sexually abused are required to file a civil lawsuit against the offender within 2 years of the incident occurring.
In 2021, Indiana state Senator Aaron Freeman introduced Bill 135 to the Indiana State Legislature. Bill 135 would effectively remove the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to bring a civil lawsuit against their perpetrator. While Bill 135 has not yet been enacted, it is expected to be signed into law soon. Until then, the above limitations still apply.
To demonstrate how these new laws apply, Coffman Law Offices has come up with these hypotheticals roughly based on current and cases we have litigated on behalf of victims:
Civil Suit in Illinois
Anna was 12 years old when she was sexually assaulted by her neighbor Tim. Fifteen years later, Anna is now 27 years old and still struggling with the trauma deriving from her childhood sexual abuse. Prior to the passage of new laws, Anna would have had a time limit of 3 years to bring suit against her neighbor Tim. If she had let those few years pass without filing, there would have been no civil remedy for Anna. Now that the act has passed, Anna can bring suit at any time she feels mentally ready.
Not only can Anna still recover for pain and suffering, among other detriments to life remedies, but she can also recover for any medical expenses, including therapy and counseling, or other expenses stemming from the abuse. Without a time limit, Anna can give herself as long as she needs to feel comfortable. Justice for Anna is the most important goal to strive for and this new law allows Anna and her legal team to achieve just that.
Civil Suit in Indiana
Anna was 12 years old when she was sexually assaulted by her neighbor Tim. Anna has until she turns 25 to bring a civil lawsuit against Tim and recover damages. If Anna has a case proving that she did not reasonably know of the sexual assault until she was older, she then has 7 years from that date to file suit. Anna will be able to recover the same damages as the fact pattern presented in Illinois.
Can I Recover for What Happened to Me?
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, please contact Coffman Law Offices. Even if the alleged offense happened decades ago, this new law allows for recovery. Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman has handled a number of high-profile Sexual Abuse claims, and through his experience seeking justice for injury victims for decades, Brian has also come to understand the strategies typically employed by defendants in these types of cases. Click CLICK HERE to contact our office for a free consultation.
Contact Coffman Law
If you or anyone you know has further questions about their legal rights under the current NIL rules/bylaws or need legal representation please feel free to contact our Managing Partner Brian W. Coffman at (312) 888-5757 who played college sports and has intimate knowledge negotiating contracts and representing athletes in all sports.