Sexual Abuse - Plaintiff Law

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse

This content contains sensitive subject matter related to sexual abuse.

The statute of limitations is the time limit a victim has to file a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse. If the statute of limitations has passed, the victim of abuse may be unable to recover money from the abuser.

Each state has its own statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse claims. To find out how long you have to file a civil claim to get damages, talk to a sexual abuse attorney in your state for legal advice.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations (SOL) is the time limit for filing a claim. There are statutes of limitation for criminal cases and civil cases. Each state has its own civil and criminal statutes of limitations for different types of cases. There may also be exceptions, extensions, and tolling rules.

There are several reasons laws have time limits. Some justifications include that it may be harder to gather evidence for a criminal defense after a long period of time. Memories fade, and witnesses may be more unreliable.

However, sexual assault crimes are different from other types of personal injuries. There are many reasons victims of sexual offenses may not bring their cases forward immediately. Victims of child sexual battery and sexual assault often never report their abuse. It may take until the victim is an adult before they come forward to speak out about what happened.

How Much Time Do You Have to File a Sexual Abuse Claim?

In some states, sexual abuse has the same statute of limitations as other personal injury cases. For example, in Hawaii, the victim has two years from the incident to file a lawsuit. If the victim was a minor, the two years begin when the minor turns 18 years old.

Other states have a specific statute of limitations for abuse involving sexual conduct. For example, in Alaska, there is no time limit for a victim of felony sexual abuse of a minor. But victims of misdemeanor sexual assault in Alaska have three years from the incident to file a civil claim.

Is There More Time for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse?

There may be exceptions to the civil statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse. There are generally two types of extensions for victims of child sexual abuse. First, some states do not start the statute of limitations running until the victim reaches the age of majority.

For example, the statute of limitations in Arizona does not begin until the victim’s 18th birthday. Then, the victim of child sexual abuse or sexual would have two years to file a claim for personal injuries or until the victim turns 20.

The other exceptions are based on state laws that extend the statute of limitations specifically for victims of child sexual abuse. For example, in Pennsylvania, in a civil action for sexual abuse of a minor, the victim has 37 years after turning 18 years of age to file a claim or until the victim reaches 55.

Changing State Laws to Extend Time Limits

Even if your state has closed the window on filing a civil suit for childhood sexual abuse, the laws may change. Several states have changed their laws to give victims of child sex abuse more time to file lawsuits against their abusers.

This is why it is essential for survivors of sexual abuse to talk to a local sexual abuse lawyer to understand their state’s laws and if there might be any changes.

How Can an Attorney Help?

Victims of sexual exploitation or other sex crimes can file a civil lawsuit to hold their abusers accountable. A civil case helps the victim of sexual misconduct get compensation for emotional distress, pain, and suffering caused by sex offenses.

Even if the abuser was never convicted of criminal charges, the survivor could still bring a civil legal action for personal injury damages. An experienced sexual abuse attorney can explain your options and your legal rights. Your attorney can also file a civil lawsuit and make the abuser answer for their actions. For more information, talk to a sex abuse injury lawyer where you live.

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