Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Illinois

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

While you should absolutely report sexual abuse to the police so that abusers can be prosecuted, you have other legal options, too. A lawyer can help you file a civil lawsuit, but you must be careful about certain deadlines.

The statute of limitations for civil claims for sexual abuse in Illinois varies based on several factors. First, adults have a much shorter deadline of only 2 years. Meanwhile, victims of childhood sexual abuse have until the age of 38 to file a civil lawsuit. If your deadline is approaching soon and you are worried about not having enough time to prepare, your lawyer might be able to buy you extra time. If there was a time when you were threatened or intimidated into silence, that time must not count against you. Those with legal disabilities may also have additional time to file. Many sexual abuse claims are filed against public schools. Because public schools are governmental entities, different deadlines apply, and they are not generous.

For a free evaluation of your claims, call our sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.

The Statute of Limitations for Illinois Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

As briefly mentioned above, the statutes of limitations for adults and children are not the same. Plaintiffs who were sexually abused as kids tend to get much longer deadlines to file their claims. Adult victims tend to have a shorter deadline.

In Illinois, there is no special statute of limitations for adult victims of sexual abuse. Instead, plaintiffs may bring their claims according to the statute of limitation imposed under 735 I.L.C.S. § 5/13-202. According to this law, claims for injuries must be filed no later than 2 years after they occur. This is an incredibly short deadline, especially for sexual abuse claims.

People often do not report abuse right away. Many victims wait for years before coming forward with their claims. Unfortunately, this means many victims who were abused as adults cannot bring a civil claim for damages because they often do not file within the statute of limitations. Our Illinois sexual abuse lawyers might be able to help you buy additional time to file, depending on your circumstances. As described in more detail below, there are ways in which plaintiffs can have the deadline tolled, allowing them more time to get their case into court.

The Statute of Limitations for Lawsuits for Childhood Sexual Abuse

The law treats children very differently than adults. In general, greater protections are carved out for children in various cases and circumstances, including cases of sexual abuse. If you were abused as a child, you have a longer period of time in which to file a civil lawsuit for damages.

According to 735 I.L.C.S. § 5/13-202.2(b), a plaintiff who was sexually abused as a child has 20 years from the day they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit. Put another way, if you were abused when you were younger than 18, you have until you turn 38 to file a lawsuit against the abuser.

Children often have longer deadlines to file civil claims because they cannot take legal action on their own until they become adults. If the ordinary statute of limitations applies, allowing them only 2 years, it might be impossible for them to file their claims. For example, if a 10-year-old is sexually abused, they would have until they are 12 to file a lawsuit under the ordinary rule. A 12-year-old child is not capable of hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. As such, they have much longer.

Extending the Deadline for Sexual Abuse Cases in Illinois

The statute of limitations in your case might impose a strict deadline, but these rules are not without exceptions. Under very specific conditions, your lawyer can help you have the statute tolled, buying you additional time to file your case with the courts.

Threats or Intimidation

It is not unusual for victims of sexual abuse to face intimidation from abusers or people close to the abusers. This is especially common in cases involving children. Many plaintiffs who were abused as kids report being threatened by abusers. An abuser might tell a young child that they will kill them or their parent if they tell anyone about what happened. Because children are so young and easily frightened, they often believe their abuser’s threats and remain silent for years.

According to 735 I.L.C.S. § 5/13-202.2(d-1), if you are at any time after the abuse facing threats or intimidation tactics to keep you quiet, that time should not count toward your filing deadline. This might come up in a case involving an adult who was victimized by a romantic partner. Because a romantic partner is already so close to you and ingrained into your life, they can easily threaten or intimidate you into silence.

Legal Disabilities

According to 735 I.L.C.S. § 5/13-113, people with legal disabilities at the time the abuse occurred may have the statute of limitations tolled until the disability subsides or ceases. Generally, once the disability subsides, the plaintiff has 2 years to file their claims.

A legal disability may include mental or physical conditions that prevent someone from understanding their rights or the harm that has been inflicted upon them. It might also inhibit them from seeking help and taking legal action.

Special Deadlines When Suing a Public School for Sexual Abuse in Illinois

One unfortunately common factor in many sexual abuse cases is the involvement of public schools. Many children who were sexually abused were victimized by school officials, teachers, coaches, or other authority figures at their school. This can be a difficult issue to work around, as public schools are governmental entities and subject to certain protections.

According to 745 I.L.C.S. § 25/3, a formal notice of your claim must be filed with the school board’s office within 6 months of the abuse. If you do not submit this notice, you might be unable to sue the school or school district for the abuse.

Under 745 I.L.C.S. § 25/2, legal actions against public schools, school districts, or non-profit private schools must be commenced within 1 year of the date of the sexual abuse. All this makes for incredibly tight deadlines, and you should begin working with an attorney as soon as possible.

Contact Our Illinois Sexual Abuse Lawyers for Help Immediately

For a free evaluation of your claims, call our Illinois sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.