Incarcerated Man Hands Through Jail CellYes, you can file a civil sexual abuse lawsuit if your abuser is in jail. Victims of sexual abuse can pursue justice through the civil and criminal systems in Illinois. In many cases, prosecutors file criminal charges against the perpetrator before the victim files a civil claim. This can lead to a civil case against the abuser while he or she is serving time for a criminal conviction. Learn the unique elements of these types of cases for victims of sexual abuse.

Criminal vs. Civil Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Filing a sexual abuse lawsuit does not necessarily mean pressing criminal charges against the abuser. This is why it is possible to file a claim even if the perpetrator is already behind bars. A sexual abuse lawsuit can refer to a civil claim, in which the victim pursues monetary damages from the offender. A criminal case aims to convict the abuser of a crime and impose a sentence as punishment. A civil case, on the other hand, aims to compensate the victim for losses the abuser inflicted.

A victim can pursue both types of claims at the same time in Illinois. In some cases, the criminal judge will order restitution as part of the abuser’s sentence. The amount of restitution can cover the victims’ medical bills, transportation, counseling, lost wages, property damage, and other economic damages. Restitution cannot, however, cover noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. To obtain restitution for pain, suffering, and emotional distress, a victim will have to file a separate civil lawsuit against the perpetrator.

Government prosecutors will take over a criminal case against an alleged sexual abuser in Illinois. It is up to the victim, however, to handle a civil case. Although it is not a legal requirement, victims should hire personal injury attorneys to represent them during civil claims. A sexual abuse lawyer can help the victim seek maximum financial compensation from an abuser.

When to File a Civil Sexual Abuse Claim

If you have been the victim of sexual abuse in Illinois, speak to an attorney to file your claim as soon as possible. Remember – a criminal lawsuit is separate from a civil one. You have grounds to file both as a victim. Restitution may not cover your full economic losses, and will not cover any noneconomic losses. Securing a civil settlement or verdict can provide more complete compensation for your damages. Luckily, you do not have to choose between restitution and personal injury compensation. You can qualify for funds from both sources.

As of August 13th, 2017, the state of Illinois has eliminated the statute of limitations on felony criminal sexual assault and child sex abuse cases. In the past, the statute of limitations could allow perpetrators to escape unpunished if enough time had passed after their crimes. The new ruling gives victims all the time they need to come forward and seek justice. Illinois joins 36 other states (and the federal government) in removing the criminal statute of limitations for sexual offenses against children.

In Illinois, victims have the power to file civil lawsuits against someone during an ongoing criminal case. However, many victims choose to wait until the verdict has been rendered. It may be easier to win a civil case if the criminal courts find the defendant guilty of sexual abuse. The victim can use this verdict as proof of abuse in a civil case. If the sexual abuse claim comes with a statute of limitations, most states will toll (extend) the clock until the conclusion of the criminal lawsuit.

Why File a Sexual Abuse Civil Case?

You may believe a successful criminal case against the person who sexually abused you or your child is enough justice. However, this would prevent you from seeking full reparation. You have more control during a civil lawsuit than you do during a criminal one. In the civil case, you are the party taking action against the perpetrator. It is up to you to give final approval of a settlement proposal – or else decide to take the abuser to court for a jury verdict. You are the one that initiates and controls a civil case.

Filing a civil claim against someone who is already facing criminal charges can also give you greater compensation for the damages he or she caused you. You can fight for restitution for your physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, psychological harm, and lost quality or enjoyment of life. If the sexual abuse caused you anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, only a civil claim can result in compensation for these losses.

Finally, filing a sexual abuse civil case can help ensure that your perpetrator faces justice. It is possible that your abuser may not face a criminal conviction for the abuse, yet a civil jury may find the person guilty of wrongdoing. This is what happened in the infamous OJ Simpson case – the jury during a criminal trial found him not guilty of murder, but the victim’s family succeeded in winning a civil wrongful death case. Filing all possible charges against the abuser increases the odds of holding the person accountable. Speak to an attorney today about a sexual abuse civil claim.


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