Recovery is possible. What happened to you does not need to define your life. We can help. Whether or not the direct offender was held accountable in the criminal justice system, you can pursue justice on your own terms. For many survivors, filing a civil lawsuit is the first step on the path to true recovery. It's a way to take control over a situation spinning out of control.
As we all know, the criminal justice system plays an essential role in bringing the direct perpetrators of any form of sexual misconduct to justice. Criminal prosecutors pursue offenders and prosecute them, while courts impose severe penalties. But there is an alternative justice system - the civil justice system, in which survivors and their loved ones are allowed to pursue accountability and financial compensation on their own terms.
Meet Our Experienced Chicago Sexual Abuse Attorneys
AbuseGuardian.com is sponsored by a national network of compassionate sexual assault and sexual abuse attorneys. No matter your legal matter, our lawyers have the experience, skill and resources to pursue your case. You can trust in our experience, as well as our outstanding record of success in sexual misconduct cases. Our attorneys have stood up to some of America's biggest organizations, including the Catholic Church and national massage spa chains. We are here to help sexual abuse victims. That's our promise to you.
To pursue cases in Illinois, our network has partnered with the compassionate legal professionals at Coplan + Crane. With decades of combined experience, the attorneys at Coplan + Crane have stood with assault and abuse survivors, pursuing justice on their behalf in civil courts across the country.
Illinois empowers survivors to pursue justice. If you were assaulted or abused, you may have the right to recover compensation and accountability by filing a private civil lawsuit against the responsible parties. The sexual assault and sexual abuse practice team at Coplan + Crane is led by firm Partner Ervin Nevitt, Esq. Ervin graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law and has been involved with a variety of personal injury cases involving thousands of plaintiffs.
The dedicated legal team at AbuseGuardian.com has already helped countless survivors step forward and pursue justice after suffering a severe trauma. You could be next. You have a powerful voice, and a story of strength and hope to inspire the world. We can help you tell it.
We Believe You: Seek Compensation For Sex Abuse
You are not alone. At AbuseGuardian.com, our dedicated legal team believes that you have an important story to tell, whether you decide to remain anonymous or make your name public. You are stronger than what happened to you, and you can make the responsible parties pay.
While closure may seem far away, recovery is possible. We've seen it happen in numerous cases. Many survivors are helped on a profound level by pursuing justice on their own terms. Needless to say, true recovery takes time, often years of therapy and difficult work. But we believe that you deserve justice, too. It's all possible in the civil justice system.
Institutions That Are Associated With Sexual Abuse Can Take Any Form
In many ways, the civil justice system offers you, as a plaintiff, a far wider range of options than can be found in the criminal justice system. Alongside the crime's direct perpetrator, you may also be eligible to file suit against any organizations, individuals or institutions that enabled the abuse or assault through their own negligence.
If you were abused by a priest, you may also be able to file suit against the Catholic diocese in which you were abused, or even the Catholic Church itself. If you were assaulted by a massage therapist, you may be able to pursue compensation from the massage spa as well. If your child was abused by a teacher, you may be eligible to demand accountability from the school and school district where your child was mistreated.
In most cases, the criminal justice system will never come close to touching these additional third-party defendants. The church, massage spa and school will never face criminal charges for their part in the sexual misconduct. Only the direct perpetrators of abuse will be prosecuted. But the civil justice system allows you to tell a far more nuanced story, one about the institutions and organizations that facilitate misconduct through failures, errors, mistakes, wrongdoing and negligence.
Due to its single-minded focus on punishing criminal offenders, the criminal justice system can often appear uncaring and unsupportive to survivors. We've spoken to many survivors who felt used by the criminal prosecution, treated as nothing more than glorified pieces of evidence.
There is another option, an additional justice system in which survivors and their families can find the support and financial compensation they deserve and so desperately need - the civil justice system. In the criminal justice system, offenders are held accountable to society at large, not to individual survivors. But the civil justice system flips this equation on its head. In the civil justice system, survivors take control of their legal futures. In filing a civil lawsuit, you pursue justice on your own terms. Civil lawsuits hold responsible parties accountable to individual survivors, not to society at large. Unlike the criminal justice system, civil litigation puts survivors at the heart of the legal process.
Suing The Direct Perpetrator Of Crime: Victims Have Legal Rights For Abuse In Chicago
Illinois' powerful criminal code seeks to hold offenders and direct perpetrators accountable for their unwanted sexual harassment and misconduct. But the criminal justice system is not the sole avenue for justice. Beyond the statutes of criminal law, there is a separate set of rules and codes that govern civil law. Under the strong tenets of Illinois common law, survivors who have suffered due to sexual abuse or sexual assault are empowered to pursue financial compensation from both the direct perpetrators of misconduct and negligent third-party defendants.
Illinois law allows sexual abuse and sexual assault survivors to file lawsuits against direct perpetrators and negligent third-party defendants. These claims are closely related, often arising over the same misconduct, but rely on different sets of legal theories in Illinois' civil courts. Delaware's body of common civil law outlines a variety of "causes of actions" - legitimate reasons to sue someone else. The relevant causes of action will vary depending on who you are suing and what you claim happened.
In Illinois, civil lawsuits filed against the direct perpetrators of sexual misconduct generally rely on three separate but inter-related legal theories:
- Assault - To the average person, assault entails a violent attack, but the term actually has a very specific definition in Illinois civil law. In civil cases, the tort (civil wrong) of assault refers not to an act of violence, but to a threat of physical violence. Assault, then, includes any gesture, act or statement that puts a victim in fear of imminent physical harm - a raised fist, or a verbal threat.
- Battery - Battery refers to the actual infliction of physical harm. Whereas assault entails the threat of imminent harm, something that would make a reasonable person fear violence, battery is the violence itself. In technical terms, battery refers to the intentional touching of someone else in an offensive or harmful manner without the other person's consent. For obvious reasons, the vast majority of sexual assault and sexual abuse cases include the claim of battery, although most use assault and battery together.
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress - The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is fairly self-explanatory. This civil wrong holds when the defendants behaves in an outrageous or extreme manner to intentionally inflict emotional distress on another person.
In most cases, you'll see these three causes of action (assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress) referred to as intentional torts. Unlike the tort of negligence, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress require a minimal finding of intent. They are not mistakes, or errors, but intentional acts taken by the defendant.
What Is Negligence?
The legal doctrine of negligence serves as the basis for the majority of sexual assault and sexual abuse lawsuits, at least when these cases are pursuing compensation from a third-party defendant.
For the theory of negligence to hold, there must be a prior "duty of care" between the plaintiff and the defendant. Negligence implies a duty, an obligation or responsibility, because at its core, negligence is the failure to uphold a pre-existing obligation to act with sufficient care.
In simpler terms, negligence acknowledges that some people owe other people a duty to act with reasonable care. Doctors, as just one example, owe their patients an obligation to follow well-recognized standards of medical practice, as well as a duty to perform their work with sufficient professionalism. Schools, colleges and universities owe their students an obligation to provide adequate security against crime, as do hotels and motels in relation to their guests, visitors and residents.
In reality, most businesses and organizations have a minimal duty to prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault insofar as they can. This obligation holds for employers in the workplace, as it does for residential apartment buildings. It holds for churches and other places of worship, along with summer camps and daycare centers. Also covered by this duty are psychiatric facilities, medical offices and hospitals. Resorts, sports clubs, gyms - all of these organizations have a basic duty to do everything in their power to prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault from occurring.
But when one of these organizations or institutions fails to uphold its obligation, allowing a mistake, error or failure to lead to sexual abuse or sexual assault, they have acted negligently. When negligence leads to sexual misconduct of any type, survivors are allowed to pursue a civil lawsuit for financial compensation against the negligent organization. Are you wondering how Illinois criminal sexual assault statutes might handle the prosecution of the person who assaulted you or a loved one? Some survivors of these crimes find comfort in seeing the person responsible put behind bars.
Civil Statute Of Limitations For Victims Of Sexual Abuse
Illinois' powerful tradition of common law allows sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors to pursue civil lawsuits against the parties responsible for the misconduct. However, the time in which to file suit may be limited. In Illinois, a law known as the "statute of limitations" acts as a legal time limit, restricting the amount of time survivors have to file suit.
Complying with the statute of limitations is absolutely critical. If you attempt to file suit after the statute of limitations has run out, your case will be dismissed without a second thought. As a result, it's crucial to contact an experienced Delaware attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected.
Compared to other states, Illinois has very liberal statutes of limitations for sex crimes. To begin with, there is no statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. If you were abused as a child, you are allowed to commence your civil action at any time, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. For adult survivors of sexual assault, the statute of limitations is a relatively short two years, beginning on the date of the assault. Note, however, that no statute of limitations exists in relation to Class X felonies - aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault - or Class 1 felonies - criminal sexual assault. These civil actions can be filed at any time.
Why Choose Coplan + Crane For Your Sexual Abuse Cases
Coplan + Crane serves in the landscape of traditional personal injury law, but that is where the tradition ends. While other firms are resistant to change and cling to the old ways of doing things, we foster a culture of ingenuity and innovation, rooted in experience and propelled by technology. Our firm is a team of forward-thinking legal minds that is approachable, honest, and dedicated to doing the right thing for our most important client: You.
Sex Abuse Victim Resources For Abuse In Illinois
At Coplan + Crane, we recognize the profound effects that sexual abuse and assault can have on an individual's life, and we are dedicated to helping you navigate the path to healing. We have assembled a list of valuable resources available in Illinois that offer support, care, and guidance to victims of sexual abuse and assault. We understand the importance of providing comprehensive assistance, and we are committed to representing our clients with compassion and professionalism while ensuring they have access to the support they need during this challenging time.
Helpful resources for victims of sexual abuse and assault in Illinois include:
- Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA): A network of crisis centers, counseling services, and legal advocacy
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN): Operates a national hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) connecting survivors with local support and resources
- Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline: Provides crisis intervention and support at 1-888-293-2080
- YWCA Metropolitan Chicago: Offers additional resources, counseling, and assistance in the local community
- Local hospitals and medical centers: Many hospitals have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) who are trained to provide compassionate care and collect evidence
- Victim assistance programs: Local law enforcement agencies and state's attorney's offices often have victim advocates to help guide survivors through the legal process.
Sexual Abuse Lawyers in Chicago - Sexual Abuse Can Take Many Forms
We believe that knowledge is power, and by providing comprehensive information about the resources and support available to victims of sexual abuse and assault in Illinois, we aim to empower those affected to take the first steps toward recovery. It's crucial to remember that you are not alone, and help is available to guide you through the process of healing and seeking justice.
Legal Representation and Financial Support:
- Legal Aid: Many organizations provide free or low-cost legal representation to low-income individuals, ensuring that survivors have access to justice regardless of their financial situation.
- Crime Victims Compensation Fund: The Illinois Crime Victims Compensation Program offers financial assistance to victims of violent crimes, including sexual assault, for expenses related to the crime, such as medical care, counseling, and lost wages.
Counseling and Support Groups:
- Local Community Mental Health Centers: Many communities have mental health centers that offer counseling services and support groups specifically tailored to the needs of sexual abuse and assault survivors.
- National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: RAINN operates a confidential online chat platform (online.rainn.org) for survivors seeking support from trained specialists.
Prevention and Education:
- Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH): IDPH provides resources and educational materials on sexual violence prevention and awareness.
- Local schools and universities: Many educational institutions have programs and resources dedicated to sexual assault prevention, awareness, and support for their students and staff.
At Coplan + Crane, we are committed to standing with our clients throughout their journey toward healing and justice. Our experienced attorneys provide compassionate and professional representation to ensure that the rights of sexual abuse and assault survivors are protected. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse or assault, please don't hesitate to reach out to us for guidance and support. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who have suffered, and work towards a safer and more just future for all.