The Louisiana Legislature has taken a significant step toward expanding the rights of sexual abuse victims to seek justice against their abusers. A new bill that passed in the Louisiana Legislature and was signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in June, 2021 removes the deadline for filing civil lawsuits against perpetrators of sexual abuse. In addition, the new legislation institutes a “revival window” which provides a three-year period for filing new lawsuits pertaining to claims that had already elapsed.
Sponsored by State Rep. Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans), House Bill 492 applies to a diverse group of victims of child sex abuse, but is regarded as a victory for those who were abused by the Catholic clergy as children. The bill received significant support from victims abused by Catholic priests and advocacy organizations that provide support for survivors of clergy abuse.
The legislation, which passed in the House of Representatives unanimously, gained support from those who acknowledged that many survivors of child sexual abuse do not report the abuse until well into adulthood. According to the author of the bill, Kathryn Robb, the average age that victims file their claims is 52 years old. Under the previous legislation, most of those victims would have been precluded from filing lawsuits. By eliminating the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases, survivors can file claims against their abusers when they are psychologically and emotionally ready to confront their trauma.
Under the previous law in Louisiana, child victims of sexual abuse could file lawsuits only until they were 28 years of age (or 10 years from their 18th birthday). In addition to removing age limitations for filing claims, Louisiana has guaranteed that for three years after the bill becomes law, those over the age of 28 who had not resolved their cases could file claims in civil court. With the adoption of this provision, Louisiana became one of 22 states to implement similar “look-back” windows.
In the last few years, many states have revised their laws to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to initiate lawsuits that were once barred for being untimely. New York passed similar legislation in January, 2019 known as the New York Child Victims Act (CVA), which provided a one-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to initiate legal action regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. The suspension of the statute of limitations for the one-year period began August 14, 2019. In addition to allowing a one-year window for sexual abuse claims, the CVA raised the statute of limitations to age 55. Before the new law was enacted, civil lawsuits for sexual abuse were required to be filed from one to five years after the victim turned 18 years old.
Levy Konigsberg is a nationally recognized law firm that has won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for victims of sexual abuse. We offer legal advice in a caring and compassionate environment and make every effort to ensure your privacy throughout the process. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual abuse, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling 1-800-988-8005 or submit an email inquiry on this page.