What is the Civil Statute Of Limitations On Child Sex Abuse & Rape In My State?

What is the Civil Statute Of Limitations On Child Sex Abuse & Rape In My State? 2017-10-31T14:02:29+00:00
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A Statute of Limitations can prevent a civil lawsuit for child sex abuse or adult sexual assault from being filed if the heinous act took place so long ago that the right to bring the lawsuit has expired under that specific State's legislation. So you may be asking:

  • What happens if the abuse occurred 30 years ago?
  • How do I know what the statute of limitations is in my State?
  • Is there a different statute of limitations for molestation and rape?

You likely have other questions. Call us and allow us the opportunity to earn your trust.

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 Civil vs. Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Abuse Cases

Every state has a law called the "statute of limitations," which restrict the amount of time survivors of sexual abuse have to file a lawsuit. These laws are Child covering his eyesextremely nuanced in their own right, but there's also a significant distinction between civil statutes of limitation and criminal statutes of limitation.

Civil statutes limit the amount of time survivors have to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator of abuse or a negligent third party. Criminal statutes limit the amount of time prosecutors have to file criminal charges against an offender.

Statute Of Limitations: Basic Definitions

In this guide, we'll cover every state's civil statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse. But first, there are some basic concepts to cover.

For older survivors, the statute of limitations almost always begins counting down on the date the abuse or sex assault occurred. But crimes against minors are regulated differently. Nearly every state "tolls" its civil statute of limitations until the minor has reached the age of majority. That means that in most states, the civil statute of limitations will only begin to count down once a victim has turned 18.

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Can The Statute Of Limitations Be Extended?

The majority of states also use what's known as a "discovery rule." These laws recognize that sexual abuse can cause significant psychological trauma. Many survivors repress their memories of abuse, which means they may only become aware of what's happened to them much later. By the time a victim is able to confront the reality of abuse, or recognize the connection between the abuse and the harm it's caused, the normal statute may have already ended. Discovery rules "toll" the statute until a survivor is able to connect their injuries to what happened in the past.

Every State's Statute Of Limitations On Civil Childhood Sex Abuse

To find the civil statutes of limitation active in your state, click on one of the links below:

Alabama

In Alabama, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have up to 2 years after they turn 19 to file a civil lawsuit. The state doesn't have a discovery rule, so the statute of limitations likely won't be tolled to account for psychological repression.

Alaska

Alaska doesn't have a statute of limitations for felony sex abuse of minors, and survivors of that crime will be able to file a personal injury lawsuit at any time. Victims of what the state defines as misdemeanor sex abuse of a minor have 3 years to file suit.

Arizona

Survivors of sex abuse have 2 years from the date they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit in Arizona. Some state courts have held that a discovery rule applies, but its application is relatively narrow.

Arkansas

In Arkansas, survivors have 3 years after they reach the age of 21 to bring a personal injury lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse. The state recognizes a discovery rule, allowing many victims extra time.

California

Compared to most other states, California's child sex abuse laws are extremely generous. Survivors have up to 8 years from the time they turn 18 to file suit, and a liberally-construed discovery rule could extend that even further.

Colorado

In Colorado, survivors have 6 years after they turn 18 to file a civil sex abuse lawsuit. The state's discovery rule is applied liberally to allow minors more time.

Connecticut

Connecticut doesn't have a statute of limitations on childhood sex abuse if the abuse led to a conviction for first-degree sexual assault. Survivors have until they reach the age of 48 if the abuse didn't lead to that conviction.

Delaware

There's no statute of limitations restricting a survivor's right to file a lawsuit for childhood sex abuse in Delaware.

Washington, D.C.

Survivors in D.C. have up to 7 years from the date they turn 18 to file suit. A liberal discovery rule could extend that time limit for another 3 years.

Florida

In Florida, there's no statute of limitation on civil cases involving sexual battery (equivalent to "sexual assault" or "rape" in other jurisdictions) committed against a victim under 16. For most other sex crimes, survivors have 7 years from the time they turn 18 to file suit.

Georgia

Georgia just changed its statute of limitations on sex abuse so there are actually two laws active right now.

For crimes committed before July 1, 2015, survivors have 5 years from the day they turn 18 to file a lawsuit. For crimes that occurred after July 1, survivors have until they turn 23 or 2 years after they discover their injuries, whichever comes later.

Hawaii

Survivors in Hawaii have up to 8 years from the date they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse. But note that Hawaii's legislature passed "window legislation" in 2012. This law allows people who have already missed the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit anyway. Hawaii's window closes in April 2016.

Idaho

In Idaho, survivors of childhood sex abuse have 5 years from the time they turn 18 to file suit. A liberally-interpreted discovery rule can extend the time limit up to 5 years for many victims.

Illinois

Illinois has no statute of limitations on civil lawsuits involving childhood sexual abuse, so survivors can file suit at any time.

Indiana

Survivors in Indiana have 7 years from the date they discover the harm caused by childhood sex abuse to file a lawsuit, or 4 years from the date they cease to be dependents of their abuser, whichever comes later. If they discover the harm after reaching the age of 18, survivors have 2 years to file suit.

Iowa

In Iowa, survivors have only 1 year from the time they turn 18 to bring a lawsuit. A fairly liberal discovery rule could extend the deadline up to 4 years.

Kansas

Survivors in Kansas have up to 3 years from the date they turn 18 to bring a civil lawsuit for childhood sex abuse. The state's discovery rule could increase the time limit by up to 3 years for some victims.

Kentucky

In Kentucky, victims of child sex abuse have 5 years from the time they turn 18 to file suit. A discovery rule active in the state may extend the time limit up to 5 years.

Louisiana

Victims of childhood sex abuse in Louisiana have 10 years from the date they turn 18 to bring a lawsuit. A discovery rule may also apply.

Maine

Maine doesn't have a statute of limitations on civil childhood sex abuse lawsuits, so survivors can file a lawsuit at any time.

Maryland

In Maryland, victims have up to 7 years from the date they turn 18 to bring a suit for childhood sexual abuse. The state doesn't have a discovery rule that could toll the statute of limitations.

Michigan

Michigan's civil statute of limitations for the sex abuse of minors is complex. In cases of sexual assault or battery, survivors have up to 2 years from the date of the abuse to file a lawsuit, unless they live or lived with the abuser at the time. In that case, survivors have 5 years from the date of abuse to bring a suit. All other personal injury claims involving childhood sex abuse are governed by a 3 year statute of limitations, that begins running on the date of the abuse.

Regardless of those variations, all childhood sex abuse claims are tolled until the survivor turns 19.

Minnesota

Minnesota doesn't have a statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits, unless a victim sues their employer. In that case, survivors have up to 2 years after they turn 18 to file their lawsuit.

Sometimes state legislatures will pass "window legislation," essentially allowing lawsuits from the past that missed their own statute of limitations to be filed anyway. Minnesota passed one in 2013. The window closes in 2016.

Mississippi

In Mississippi, survivors have up to 3 years from the date they turn to 18 to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sex abuse. There's no discovery rule, so most claims will be barred after the victim has turned 21.

Missouri

Missouri's statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse allows victims to file a civil lawsuit within 10 years from the date they turn 18. The state is also home to a very liberal discovery rule, which could extend the time limit up to 10 additional years.

Montana

Instead of having a normal statute of limitations, Montana only has a discovery rule. The law gives survivors of childhood sex assault up to 3 years from the date they discover the harm caused by abuse to file a civil lawsuit.

Nebraska

In Nebraska, victims of sex abuse have up to 12 years from the time they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit.

Nevada

Survivors in Nevada have 10 years from the date they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sex abuse, although a liberally-construed discovery rule could extend that deadline further.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire's statute of limitations on civil sex abuse cases allows minor victims up to 12 years from the date they turn 18 to file suit. The state's discovery rule may be able to extend that time limit another 3 years.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, victims have 2 years from the time they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sex abuse. A discovery rule allows survivors 2 additional years to discover the effects of their abuse.

New Mexico

New Mexico gives all survivors of childhood sexual abuse until the age of 24 to file a civil lawsuit. The state's discovery rule extends that deadline another 3 years for many victims.

New York

New York's civil statute gives survivors of first-degree sexual offenses up to 5 years from the date they turn 18 to file a lawsuit against the abuser. Victims who choose to sue a third party for negligence related to a first-degree sexual assault have 3 years after they turn 18.

For all other cases, victims have only 1 year after turning 18.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, survivors have 3 years from the time they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit. The state has a discovery rule, but it's restricted by a hard limit (or "statute of repose") of 10 years after the last assault.

North Dakota

North Dakota allows survivors up to 1 year from the date they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit involving childhood sexual assault. The state's discovery rule has been interpreted narrowly by most courts. In rare cases, victims may have an extra 7 years to file suit against the offender. The discovery rule could also give survivors up to 6 years from the date of discovery to file a lawsuit against a negligent third party.

Ohio

Ohio's civil statute of limitations allows victims 12 years from the date they turn 18 to file a lawsuit for childhood sex abuse. There's no discovery rule, so most victims won't be able to file suit after they turn 30.

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, survivors have 2 years after they turn 18 to file suit for childhood sexual assault. There is a discovery rule, which could extend the statute another 2 years. Oklahoma's courts are fairly lenient with the discovery rule when a case involves intentional conduct, but strict when it applies to negligence lawsuits filed against third parties.

A strict "statute of repose" invalidates all child sex abuse claims filed by survivors over the age of 38.

Oregon

Oregon allows survivors to file lawsuits for childhood sexual abuse until they reach the age of 40. For victims over 40, the state's discovery rule may extend the statute another 5 years.

Pennsylvania

Survivors in Pennsylvania have up to 12 years from the time they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit for sexual assault or abuse. The state doesn't have a discovery rule, so most victims over the age of 40 will not be able to file suit.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, victims of childhood sex abuse have 7 years from the time they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit. The state's discovery rule is relatively liberal, but only for cases filed against a sex offender.

South Carolina

South Carolina gives victims up to 6 years from the date they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit for child sexual assault. There's also a discovery rule which may be able to toll the statute for an additional 3 years.

South Dakota

Survivors of childhood sex abuse in South Dakota have 3 years from the time they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit. A liberally-construed discovery rule may be able to extend the deadline further.

Tennessee

In Tennessee, survivors have only 1 year after they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse. The state does have a discovery rule, but it's narrowly applied.

Texas

Survivors in Texas have up to 5 years from the date they discover the injuries inflicted upon them to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sex assault or abuse.

Utah

In March 2015, Utah did away with its statute of limitations on civil child sex abuse lawsuits. If the assault occurred prior to March 2015, survivors have 4 years from the date they turn 18 to file suit. A discovery rule may be able to extend that deadline, but it's interpreted narrowly by Utah's state courts.

Vermont

In Vermont, survivors have up to 6 years from the date of childhood sexual abuse, or 6 years from the time they discovered that their injuries were caused by abuse, to file a lawsuit, whichever comes later.

Virginia

Victims of childhood sexual abuse in Virginia have up to 20 years from the date they learn that their injuries were caused by abuse to file a civil lawsuit. The state's discovery rule could extend that time limit further, but usually only for cases filed against the perpetrator of abuse.

Washington

Survivors in Washington have 3 years from the time they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual assault. A discovery rule may be able to extend the deadline for another 3 years.

West Virginia

In West Virginia, victims of childhood sex abuse have 2 years from the date they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit. The state is also home to a discovery rule, which could increase the time period by up to 2 additional years.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin allows survivors to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse until they reach the age of 35. The state's discovery rule may be able to extend that time limit.

Wyoming

In Wyoming, survivors have up to 8 years after they turn 18 to file a lawsuit for childhood sex assault. There's also a discovery rule, which extends the deadline by another 3 years for some victims.

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