New Legislation in Louisiana Reforms Deadlines for Sexual Abuse Claims
A new Louisiana bill (HB 492) took effect on August 1, 2021. The bill eliminates deadlines for filing civil claims against perpetrators of sexual abuse. The legislation creates a three-year “look-back” window for survivors to initiate unresolved sexual abuse claims in court. Prior to this legislation, victims of child sex abuse could bring claims only until their 28th birthday. The extension of the period to file lawsuits recognizes that sex abuse survivors may need more time than the law had previously authorized to acknowledge and report childhood abuse.
Louisiana Law Targets Claims Against Catholic Clergy
While the legislation applies to all survivors of child sex abuse, victims of abuse by Catholic clergy members were particularly instrumental in passing the law. The Louisiana Catholic dioceses has been accused of sexual abuse by hundreds of people. The Catholic Church in Louisiana was one of the first to admit that its clergy sexually abused minors or covered up for those who engaged in abuse. The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020 as a result of the growing number of claims brought against it by victims of sexual abuse. In September, 2020, the Bankruptcy Court ruled that survivors seeking compensation were required to initiate claims by March 1, 2021. As of the deadline, only 400 claims were filed by victims. The amended legislation is projected to raise this number significantly. Other Louisiana Catholic dioceses are also facing hundreds of lawsuits.
HB 492 Extends Opportunities for Survivors to Obtain Compensation
On June 14, 2021, House Bill 492 was signed into law to remove barriers that had previously prevented victims of abuse from filing claims against the Catholic Church and other perpetrators years later. The new law removes the civil statute of limitations that precluded a survivor from filing a lawsuit after the age of 28. To allow survivors with older claims that have already expired to pursue civil lawsuits, the legislation implements a three-year “look back” window. The look back window ends on July 31, 2024. This provision authorizes lawsuits against perpetrators of sexual abuse and those who concealed the abuse without regard to when the abuse occurred. For survivors of sexual molestation by members of the Catholic clergy, this legislation allows victims to seek justice and compensation for the harm they suffered decades ago as children.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for victims of sexual abuse. Through the Sex Abuse Claims Center, LK has resolved claims for sexual molestation that occurred both recently and decades ago. 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 1-800-225-9825 or submit an email inquiry on this page.