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Is There a Statute of Limitation for Sexual Abuse Cases?

by Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP
August 26, 2019
Personal Injury

Experiencing sexual abuse is traumatic, no matter your gender or age — and this painful experience brings a lifetime of emotional and psychological damage. In many cases, victims do not come forward about their abuse due to fear or self-blame. However, speaking up and bringing your abuser to justice can not only stop the abuse, but can also prevent them from finding new victims. Unfortunately, when it comes to civil suits in sexual abuse cases, there is a statute of limitation. Here’s what you need to know.

Common Reasons Victims of Sexual Abuse Do Not Speak Up

There are many reasons why people do not speak up and report sexual abuse. Victims may be reluctant to report their abuser for the following reasons:

  • Feelings of shame
  • Fear they will not be believed
  • Fear of being responsible and blamed for the abuse
  • Fear of punishment
  • Sharing the experience is too emotionally painful
  • Fear of being ostracized

Victims of sexual abuse have the right to hold their perpetrators responsible for the reprehensible acts that have been committed against them. Survivors can file a personal injury lawsuit against an organization under which they knew sexual abuse was happening and subsequently ignored. Additionally, parents of minors who have endured sexual abuse may file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of their child.

The Statutes of Limitation in Sexual Abuse Cases

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 218 on October 13, 2019, giving childhood sex abuse victims an opportunity to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator either until they turn 40 years old or until five years have passed from discovery of the abuse.

Additionally, victims of all ages are given three years to file a claim that would have otherwise been prohibited because of the existing statutes. If victims can prove there was an attempt to cover up the abuse, the court can multiply the damages by three.

The new law will take effect on January 1, 2020. According to the previous law, victims have until the age of 26 to file a civil lawsuit or do so within three years from discovery of the abuse.

How an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Enduring sexual abuse is one of the most horrific experiences anyone can go through. The emotional and psychological damage can be a tremendous burden to overcome. Many victims of sexual abuse are left confused, vulnerable, and unsure where to turn for help.

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