Coronavirus Update: To New & Existing Clients Learn More ›

Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
BBB Accredited Business

Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyer

If you or your family member is a victim of sexual abuse perpetrated by an individual associated with an institution or company, you may pursue justice through the civil justice system to recover compensation.

Having an experienced Chicago sexual abuse lawyer on your side can help you navigate this treacherous time.

The Chicago sex abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to holding organizations where abusive conduct occurred fully accountable under the laws of Illinois.

We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. We can assist you to pursue financial recovery, even if the incident occurred many years ago.

All of our Chicago sexual abuse claims are handled on a contingency fee where there is no legal fee unless we win.
Contact us today for a free consultation with a top-rated sexual abuse lawyer regarding you legal options.

Chicago Sexual abuse lawyer

Sexual Abuse Lawyers Holding Perpetrators Accountable In Civil Court

Our trial attorneys represent individuals involving cases perpetrated in Chicago and across the United States.

If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual assault, we encourage you to contact our law firm as soon as feasible to ensure your legal rights are not compromised.

Complete our case intake form for a free consultation of your case and legal options.

Chicago Sexual abuse attorney

Demonstrating the Extent of Damages in Civil Claims

In legal claims involving a form of sexual abuse, our attorneys use the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts both to help our clients personally cope with some of the emotional issues that they encounter and to help jurors understand the horrors that our client experienced.

Frequently, the use of these experts translates into a more valuable case, as these experts can better articulate the impact on the individual than people are usually capable of doing themselves.

In each case we are mindful of the impact that the event has on the individual and respect each person's wishes as how to navigate their case.

Sex Abuse Victims Civil Law FAQs

Each sexual abuse lawyer in our Chicago, Illinois law office represents people sexually abused and molested as children in civil claims to recover funds for their harm.

Our attorneys appreciate the life-long impact these situations can have. Below you will find some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) commonly encountered by our clients.

Of course, should you have additional questions about the legal rights of sexual abuse victims, we welcome you to contact our law office for a free consultation.

Chicago Child Sexual abuse lawyer

Compensatory Damages Available to Sexual Abuse Victims

A civil claim could result in many different types of recompense for the victim. All damages, however, fall under two main categories: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages serve to reimburse the victim for his or her losses, while punitive serve to punish the defendant. Compensatory funds happen in all successful claims while awarding punitive damages is up to a judge's discretion.

The two types of compensatory damages are actual (specific) and general. Actual damages are out-of-pocket or economic costs, while general may not have a monetary value.

The general damages are often substantial in sexual abuse lawsuits.

  • Medical expenses. All related past and future medical costs, including therapy treatment, counseling with a psychologist or psychiatrist. This also includes treatments in an in-patient or outpatient setting.
  • Pain and suffering. All emotional damages that the institution or individual inflicted upon you in the past, as well as the future burden you will bear as the survivor. Pain and suffering may include lost quality or enjoyment of life. This element of damages would also cover post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Lost wages. If the experience resulted in you taking time off work for counseling, recovery, or to avoid the perpetrator, you can file a claim for these economic damages.

The state of Illinois does not place a cap on either type of damage unless the defendant is the state. If the defendant in your case is the state government, you cannot receive more than $100,000 in general damages for most claims.

A personal injury lawyer at our office can guide you through the litigation process and how the law would apply to your circumstance.

Chicago Child Sexual abuse attorney

Punitive Damages in Sexual Abuse Cases

Punitive damages are common in abuse cases, as a form of punishment against the defendant.

A judge may demand that a defendant pay punitive damages in addition to compensatory ones if the judge believes that the victim of sexual abuse has not received enough under the circumstances, or if the defendant's actions were particularly egregious.

Gross negligence, intent to harm, malice, or criminal acts may all result in a punitive damage award against the defendant.

Who are Common Defendants in Chicago Sexual Abuse Cases?

Most childhood sexual abuse lawsuits involve individuals and affiliated entities with the means to pay a court judgment or settlement.

Below are some common parties named (defendants) in legal claims stemming from childhood abuse.

  • Clergy: Thousands of cases have been filed against members of the Catholic church. The church itself says that as much as 1% of its priest population are abusers which equates to hundreds of thousands of wrongdoers and millions of abused kids. The Catholic Church has paid out an estimated three billion dollars in settlements for the abusive acts of its clergy and priests that occurred in Churches and dioceses.
  • Teachers: Teachers are constantly the target of child abuse claims. In most cases, the teachers are named individually and as an employee of the school district where they were employed at the time the alleged abuse occurred. In most of these circumstances, school districts have a duty to represent them in court under a theory of respondeat superior.
  • Coaches: The world watched in shock as the horrors of Larry Nassar came to light at Michigan State University. However, many other coaches across the country have been found to have abused children. Hundreds of lawsuits have been brought against boys' and girls' athletic coaches who violated the sacred trust between themselves and their athletes.
  • Doctors: A physician at USC was found to have abused hundreds of young women. This prompted a large outcry, his conviction, and a thorough review of the treatment of minors in the hands of doctors. Doctors exercise such complete control over patients that abuse can happen quite easily, and it often does.
  • Foster Parents: Foster parents are entrusted with protecting our most vulnerable members of society. Unfortunately, they turn out to be the real danger all too often. In most cases, the individual perpetrators do not have sufficient assets to pursue. Consequently, cases are typically brought against the foster care agencies based upon their failure to screen the parents or supervise the children under their care.
  • Youth Groups: Many of the largest youth groups in the country have come under scrutiny for child assault or abuse cases. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has had to deal with a lot of this negative attention. To date, the group had paid tens of millions in settlement to survivors including one case for $15 million and another for $18.5 million. For more information on litigation involving Boy Scouts look here.
  • Other Care Facilities: As disturbing as it sounds, the facilities we entrust our youngest children and elderly parents to for care are not immune from abusive conduct. Reports of abuse of children at day care centers and senior in a nursing home are increasingly common. When an incident occurs there, the facility can generally be held accountable in court.

How Long do I Have to File a Cases for Sexual Abuse Under Illinois Law?

In 2017, Illinois eliminated the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse and assault;

This means that if the abuse came after this change in the law, the child has no deadline to bring a case. However, if the incident occurred before that change in the law, then the child must bring a case within 20 years of turning 18-years-old.

Illinois removed the statute of limitations for a victims of sexual abuse to pursue legal relief to better protect them and afford them an opportunity to see redress.

Consequently, if you are a victim of sexual abuse, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as feasible so your rights are not prejudiced. Talk to a sexual abuse attorney today for a free consultation.

What is the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Lawsuit?

The difference between civil and criminal suits for child sexual abuse lies largely in punishment.

In civil cases, defendants face the possibility of mostly monetary penalties. In criminal sexual abuse cases, defendants may lose their liberty through imprisonment and other restrictions in freedom.

Another implicit but important difference in these two types of cases is the complainant.

Civil cases are brought by private parties and are prosecuted by an attorney hired by the victim. Criminal sexual abuse cases are brought by the state and are prosecuted by a government lawyer.

Will I Need to Face my Abuser if I File a Lawsuit?

You may need to face your abuser if you file a sex assault lawsuit, but you will never be with him or her alone.

You will have your attorney by your side, and you will be in a courtroom full of people. Finally seeking justice for your experience can punish the defendant and enable you to heal.

Our Chicago sexual abuse lawyers can help you secure compensation to improve the quality of your life.

In some circumstances, we can provide an extra layer of support, by filing your lawsuit using an alias

Unlike other personal injury cases, where court filings have the name of the individuals involved, we may be able to file an Illinois civil lawsuit under a John Doe or Jane Doe alias, keeping your name out of public viewing.

What to Expect During a Sexual Assault Lawsuit in Court

A lot of the fear and uncertainty victims feel at the beginning of the legal process comes from not knowing what to expect.

Feeling left in the dark about how long the process might take, when and if you will need to see your abuser, and how much privacy you will have during the process can make you nervous.

Do not let these fears get in the way of your pursuit of justice and compensation. Learn what to expect during the average case.

  • Filing the claim. You will need to come forward to an attorney to initiate the process. You will have to give details about your abuse experience and help your attorney find available evidence, such as eyewitnesses or counselors. It can be difficult to start the process, but your lawyer can walk you through the next steps.
  • The discovery phase. In a Chicago sexual abuse court case, both parties will undergo the discovery phase. During this time, the defendant's attorney may ask you questions and request documents or information. Your attorney can help you prepare for this phase and collect evidence from the defendant's side. You will not have to see or interact with the defendant during discovery.
  • Privacy concerns. Filing a claim does come with certain losses of privacy. If your case goes to court, it will become a matter of public record. Your psychological history can become evidence during litigation. However, things you say to privileged parties, such as your lawyer, will remain confidential. In some cases, we may be able to file your claim using an alias to further protect your identity.
  • Potential triggers and flashbacks. It is possible that your lawsuit will bring up memories you have suppressed for many years. Answering questions, trying to recall what happened, etc. can trigger flashbacks and anxiety or depression. Work with a therapist to discuss whether you are psychologically and emotionally ready to pursue a claim.
  • Hearings. Court hearings are the only settings where you may have to face your perpetrator during a legal proceeding. Both you and the defendant will be present at hearings. However, your attorney will be representing you. You do not have to speak to the defendant if you do not want to. If talking to your abuser will be cathartic, a public hearing can be a safe space to do so

Lawyers have methods to protect your interests and emotional health during a civil sexual abuse claim.

Today, the claims process is much easier on victims than it used to be.

Legal changes have created a safe environment in which victims can assert their rights and have their stories heard. Filing a claim can give you the opportunity to seek justice against someone who has caused you harm.

Can I File a Lawsuit if my Abuser is in Jail?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit if your abuser is in jail. Victims of abuse can pursue justice through the state and federal court systems. 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.

Why is it Important to Sue the Organization or Company a Sex Abuser was Affiliated With?

It is important to sue the organization or company the sex abuser affiliated him or herself with because the company could be vicariously liable.

An employer or other entity could bear partial fault for the sex abuse case for failing to properly vet or train its employees or for another act of negligence.

Holding parties besides the abuser accountable for child sexual abuse could result in more complete justice and better financial compensation for the victim.

Many of the organizations that are named as defendants in sexual abuse litigation also have the resources necessary to satisfy a substantial settlement or judgment where such a recovery is unlikely in the case of an individual.

What are Some Examples of Illinois Sexual Abuse Settlements?

On average, successful child sexual abuse lawsuit settlements in Illinois fetch several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of them even exceed the one-million-dollar mark. However, how much any particular case gets depends on its facts.

This will also determine how long they last which matters when it comes to compensation as well.

Here are a few examples of child abuse settlements deriving from sexual misconduct and sexual harassment filed in courts to give you a better flavor of how these cases are valued.

$4.45 MILLION, CLERGY ABUSE, Chicago, IL

In the spring of 2017, the Chicago Archdiocese reached a $4.45 million settlement with three men. The plaintiffs alleged one priest repeatedly molested them roughly 15 years prior. Two of the boys were abused during an after-school program and one was abused after a church-run basketball program. The plaintiffs stated that the diocese knew about the priest's tendencies and took no action to intervene with the unwanted sexual contact.

$1 MILLION, SCHOOL TEACHER ABUSE

Five kids sued a north-suburban high school after enduring sexual assault and abuse on campus. They alleged the school knew about it and took no action. Two coaches were fired, and another was charged by the local authorities but eventually released. The district settled with all of them; they each received $200,000. It was a settlement agreement, so the school could still deny any wrongdoing. (Cook County, IL)

$6.3 MILLION, PRIEST ABUSE

This case arose in a church near St. Louis. The plaintiff, an adult, claimed that a priest sexually abused him decades ago. The misconduct occurred at a school the priest taught at and the man attended. The man received a large award, much of that was punitive damages and interests. This case illustrates how justice is possible even many years after the fact!

$3 MILLION, GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY

This case was brought against a town under the failure to report statutes of Illinois which require officials to report allegations of abuse to authorities.

The plaintiffs, several small children, alleged an employee and volunteer of the city sexually assaulted and abused them over several months. The town settled with the plaintiffs in a private agreement totaling $3 million.

$1.4 MILLION, CATHOLIC DIOCESE, Chicago, IL

This claim wrapped up in 2018 nearly four years after it began in Cook County, IL. Three men brought a combined suit against a Catholic Church and various dioceses. They said that one priest repeatedly molested them over a few years in the early 1980s. They were each under the age of 11 at the time.

$2.2 MILLION, TEACHER ABUSE OF STUDENT

This civil case kicked off after a Colorado teacher went to jail for 20 years. He was found to have repeatedly sexually exploited a 14-year-old girl. The school district got in hot water because it didn't report allegations to the police.

$4 MILLION, FOSTER CARE ABUSE

This case was brought by an adult male against his former foster parent. It was filed in 2017 for actions that allegedly took place around 2004.

From what we can tell, the foster parent sexually assaulted him over a few months during that year. The victim reported that has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This plaintiff received a $4 million award-$2 million for compensatory damages and $2 million for punitive damages.

$28 MILLION, COACH ABUSE

It only took a jury a few hours to return one of the largest verdicts in the state's history for child abuse. The victim was only 12 at the time.

The abuser was a family friend and coach of the boy. He molested him serially over a few months. The kid had to run away from his home for it to stop. The jury gave him $28 million-$7 million for compensatory damages and $21 million for punitive damages.

Sexual abuse lawyer Chicago

Hire an Experienced Chicago Sexual Assault Lawyer to Help Move Forward

Each Chicago sexual abuse attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has experience providing assistance with these difficult situations, and we are mindful of the emotional toll these cases have on victims when they are forced to relive their experiences.

All safeguards are used to minimize the emotional toll on the individual through the course of settlement or litigation of the case.

If you or a loved one is the victim of abuse in the Chicago area or anywhere in Illinois and you've been wondering, "Where can I find an experienced attorney near me?", please contact our nationally recognized law firm for a confidential consultation of your situation and the legal issues in your case.

We will answer your questions in a safe, no-pressure environment and give you legal advice on moving forward. Talk with a sex abuse lawyer today for a free consultation.

Chicagoland Sex Abuse Victim Resources

For many victims of sexual abuse as a child, the road to recovery is difficult. Many victims live in silence and pain for years before they confide to anyone about their trauma.

The emotional and psychological damage can affect all areas of their lives, from diminished focus in school to forging healthy relationships.

Because of the abuse, these children can grow up to live very different lives than they would have if their childhood had not been taken away through the malicious acts of their abuser.

Thankfully, there are some organizations that provide support for people who suffered trauma as children.

Below are some Chicago, Illinois organizations that provide help and counseling for victims and their family dealing with childhood abuse.

  • Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault: A network of 30 rape crisis centers providing 24-hour support for victims of unwanted sexual contact and their significant others
  • Resilience (formerly Rape Victims Advocates): Founded in 1974, this group aims to provide support for victims of sexual violence. The organization also provides resources for prevention and education.
  • Joyful Heart Foundation: Founded in 2004, this organization strives to transform societies view of assault and support survivors' healing.
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): A national anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800) 656-HOPE, where victims can connect with local support groups.
  • Community Counseling Services of Chicago: Provides support and counseling to victims in need.

Click Here to View More Related Topics
250M + Recovered for Our Clients
No Fee Guarantee We Never Charge a Fee Unless We Win
Available 24/7 Available 24-Hours per Day When You Need Us
Client Reviews
★★★★★
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
★★★★★
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
★★★★★
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
★★★★★
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
★★★★★
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa