Sexual abuse in Louisiana can take a severe toll on its victims. This is true if you suffered an attack as an adult or as a child. What you have been through can devastate your mental health, your emotional well-being, and even your finances. You may suffer physical damage from the attack, lose time at work, and even require long-term therapy. You should not be responsible for these costs.
A civil sexual abuse lawsuit may help you recover the compensation you need. There are time limits, however, that may affect your case. Understanding the statutes of limitation in sexual abuse cases can help you file in time to protect your rights.
What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?
Many types of activities and attacks might constitute sexual abuse. This broad definition may include many types of unwanted physical touching or contact with your private areas. It may also include a forcible rape or an aggressive sex act. If you endured some unwanted sexual action by another, you could very likely have a valid sexual abuse case.
Most sexual abuse cases arise from a lack of consent. Consent is permission or willing acquiescence to a sexual act. In these cases, the victim did not want or even objected to the sex acts. Acts of sexual abuse include:
- Sexual attacks by coaches, teachers, or clergy members
- Unwanted touching or groping of erogenous zones, both over and underneath clothing
- Incest or sex acts by a family member
- Sexual abuse perpetrated against those who are unable to consent, such as disabled, mentally infirm, or very young people
- Nonconsensual sexual penetration of the anus, vagina, or oral opening
These acts and many others may entitle you to file a sexual abuse claim. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can review the facts of your case and educate you about your rights.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a time limit for filing your case before the case is considered untimely. It sets a specific time period to file your complaint, or the case will likely be dismissed as late. When this happens, your case could be dismissed even if you otherwise would be entitled to compensation.
The purpose of the statute of limitations can be confusing. A time limit on sexual abuse lawsuits may seem unfair or unconscionable, but the statute of limitations has three main reasons behind it:
- To encourage victims to bring claims within a reasonable time period
- To avoid allegations filed long after the incident, which could lead to unjust results
- To avoid the loss of critical evidence because of the passage of time
Moods have begun to change on statutes of limitations in sexual abuse lawsuits for both criminal and civil cases.
Criminal Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations
Criminal cases seek to punish the alleged offender for their actions. These punishments may include incarceration in prison and even high fines. It often includes sex offender registration as well in these types of cases. A prosecutor, not the victim, files a criminal case. This is different from a civil sexual abuse lawsuit, which seeks financial compensation from the attacker.
The Louisiana statutes of limitations for sex offenses are quite varied. The time limit will depend on the type of sexual abuse and the age of the victim. The following are a couple of examples of the time limits in these cases:
- There is no limit on crimes punishable by death, life imprisonment, or for forcible or second-degree rape
- Third-degree rape has a time limit of six years from the date of the offense
Each case is different. You should consult local law enforcement or your prosecutor to seek criminal charges against your attacker.
Civil Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations
A civil sex abuse case pursues financial compensation, not imprisonment. You can file this case with the help of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. It is important to speak with an attorney quickly, as the statute of limitations in these cases continues to evolve.
Before the rise of the #MeToo movement and other prominent sex abuse causes, most sexual abuse cases in Louisiana could not be filed after a person’s 28th birthday. Most cases were filed as other personal injury claims, such as assault, battery, or other intentional torts. As moods change on this issue, the Louisiana Legislature has attempted to help victims of sexual abuse.
What Are the Sex Abuse Lookback Window Laws?
The reality is that many sex abuse victims do not come forward right away, especially if the attack happened during childhood. Louisiana passed House Bill 492 to help address this issue. It created new time limits for victims of sexual abuse:
- Any person under 28 may file a sexual abuse claim without a statute of limitations.
- Those older than 28 who previously attempted to file a case were given a three-year lookback window, which expires on June 14, 2024, to re-open their cases.
The Roman Catholic Church, insurance companies, and lobbyists objected to this legislation. They raised various legal arguments, alleging the new law was invalid because it referenced a prior 1993 statute improperly. To avoid this issue, the Louisiana Legislature enacted House Bill 402 to allow any victim of any age until June 14, 2024, to sue for sexual abuse.
Victims of sexual abuse have a limited time to use this lookback window. If you were a victim at any time in your life, you have until June 14, 2024, to file a claim. After that, different time periods may apply that significantly limit your ability to file a civil sexual abuse claim.
File Your Sexual Abuse Claim in Time
Sexual abuse does not have to go unanswered. You can file your claim within the appropriate statute of limitations and seek monetary compensation for your injuries. You can be compensated for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.