How Long Do Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse Have to Take Legal Action?

By Mike Bryant
Legal Examiner
March 3, 2020

If you were abused by a member of the Catholic Church, you may have only a limited amount of time to sue for damages. While revisiting such a traumatic experience will undoubtedly be challenging, putting off your legal action could prevent you from obtaining fair compensation and the sense of justice that comes with it.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go up against the Catholic Church alone. A personal injury attorney can gather evidence, estimate a fair settlement figure, and help you fight for the highest possible compensation. Your lawyer can also help you avoid missing critical deadlines.

In the state of Minnesota, the statute of limitations for civil suits involving sex abuse is six years, but only if the victim was at least 18 years old when the incident occurred. If the victim was younger than 18, there is no filing deadline—unless he or she wants to sue for vicarious liability.

Vicarious liability claims are those against the institutions that allowed the abuse to happen rather than the individuals who committed it. Generally speaking, such suits must be filed within six years or, if the victim was a child at the time, by the age of 24.

When Should I Call a Personal Injury Attorney? 

If you were a victim of sex abuse, it is wise to call a lawyer as soon as possible. While it is true that you might have plenty of time to take legal action, critical evidence may not be available indefinitely.

What’s more, the Catholic Church may want to conduct its own investigation upon hearing your claims. Depending on the circumstances, their proceedings could take months—or even years—to complete. In that time, the clock will continue ticking.

If the Church considers their findings inconclusive after all is said and done, they may refuse to offer you a fair settlement. Should this happen, you may have no choice but to file suit. You will only be able to file the lawsuit if the statute of limitations that applies to your case has not expired.

How Can I Strengthen My Claim Against the Catholic Church? 

Although there’s no way to guarantee your claim will yield compensation, there are steps you can take to give your case the best possible chance of success. For example, you can:

  • Avoid posting about the incident or your case on social media;
  • Let your attorney handle all correspondence with the Church and their legal team;
  • Seek therapy from a reputable mental health provider who is qualified to perform psychiatric evaluations; and
  • Write detailed journal entries about the ways in which the trauma is affecting your everyday life.

Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Minneapolis 

If you or someone you love was abused by a member of the Catholic Church, contact Bradshaw & Bryant. Call 800-770-7008 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney in Minneapolis.



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