Holding your abuser accountable takes courage. If you plan to pursue legal action against them, you may have questions about what to expect. For example, you may wonder how much time your case could take, whether you should settle or go to court and how long you have to file a sexual abuse lawsuit.

How long could my sexual abuse case last?

It can depend on the circumstances. Some sexual abuse cases only last a few weeks. Others can last months, even years before anything gets resolved. Settling sexual abuse cases often takes less time than going to court. However, some negotiations can last longer than you might expect.

For example, if you sue your abuser individually, they may try to drag out negotiations. That’s because many can’t afford to pay a lump-sum settlement out of their own pocket. But if you’re suing an organization for not doing anything about the abuse you experienced, they may aggressively push you to accept a settlement well below what you deserve. Many can afford a lump sum payout but worry they could lose much more if their organization ends up facing trial.

Is it better for me to settle or sue?

This often depends on the outcome you’re seeking. Settling can be a viable option if you:

  • Want to hold your abuser accountable without spending years in court
  • Want to avoid hefty court costs and expenses
  • Want more control over the outcome of your case
  • Don’t want to relive the trauma of your abuse through testifying
  • Don’t want to see your abuser in person again

Settling can provide peace of mind to many survivors who want quick accountability. Litigation on the other hand, can give survivors an opportunity to fully pursue their abusers. Litigation can be a viable option if you:

  • Are going after a business, university, religious institution or other entity
  • Have compelling evidence that you can present in front of a judge and jury
  • Want your abuser to understand the pain and hardship they caused you
  • Want to empower others who may have endured abuse by the same person/institution

Figuring out which option you’d like to pursue can require serious thought and consideration. An experienced sexual abuse attorney can help you evaluate which option best aligns with your needs and values.

How much time do I have to file a sexual abuse lawsuit?

The statute of limitations for each state can vary. Here in Florida, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse can last for seven years after an individual is legally able to sue, four years after the survivor leaves the dependency of the abuser or within four years of the discovery of the abuse. Additionally, there is no time limit for filing sexual battery claims if the survivor is under the age of 16.

It takes braveryto hold your abuser accountable. But by understanding your options and how these cases work, you can focus on seeking justice.