Statutes of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
One of the most significant impediments for victims of childhood sexual abuse is a statute of limitations barring claims for civil monetary damages. Victims often delay reporting the abuse out of embarrassment, shame, doubt over whether the incident rose to the level of sexual assault, or inability to comprehend or fully process their traumatic experience until some time has passed. By the time many victims decide to come forward and seek justice, they may no longer be permitted to file lawsuits because of the age of their claims. Several states have taken the lead in extending the statute of limitations to allow sexual assault survivors to have their day in court. These laws are instrumental in helping survivors seek justice and compensation for their injuries many years after the abuse occurred.
Attention: New York and New Jersey Law Provides Additional Time for Sexual Abuse Survivors to Bring Action
California Law AB 1619
The California State Assembly unanimously passed Assembly Bill 1619 (AB 1619) on September 29, 2018. The legislation expands the statute of limitations for sexual abuse survivors from two years to ten years after the last episode of abuse. In addition, if a victim of sexual assault discovers an injury linked to the abuse, he or she may file a lawsuit in California within three years of discovery of the injury or illness. Proponents of AB 1619 maintain that extending the statute of limitations helps victims who did not realize the nature or extent of their injuries, are unaware of their legal options, or are awaiting the conclusion of a criminal trial.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 §4C and §4C 1/2
Until Massachusetts reformed its statute of limitations, victims of childhood sexual abuse had only three years from their 18th birthday to file a claim for civil damages against individual perpetrators and institutions who negligently supervised their abusers. In 2015, the Massachusetts Legislature amended this rule to allow victims of sexual abuse to bring claims for at least 35 years following their 18th birthday against individual perpetrators of sexual abuse and at least 7 years following their 18th birthday against individuals and institutions whose negligent behavior contributed to the abuse.
Connecticut General Statute §52-577e
Connecticut law provides that a civil action for sexual abuse may be brought any time after the last assault occurred if the accused has been convicted of 1st degree sexual assault or 1st degree aggravated sexual assault. In all other cases, a victim who was a minor when the assault occurred may file suit at any time before the age of 48.
A number of other states, including Rhode Island, have recently voted to pass legislation extending the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims in civil cases.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has handled all types of negligence cases for more than three decades. 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 1-800-988-8005.