What is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations sets the maximum time after the occurrence of an event in which a party can commence litigation. In the majority of cases, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the event on which the injury occurred. Once the period has expired, the claim is barred, and the party can no longer seek damages for his/her injury. The statute of limitations differs for criminal and civil actions and for each of cause of action in the state in which the claim is made. The statute of limitations is designed to protect defendants from stale claims which can result in evidence becoming lost or destroyed when too much time passes since the alleged event.
The Statute of Limitations (Pre-Amendments)
The expiration of the statute of limitations can thwart a victim’s pursuit of an otherwise credible claim. This is particularly true in cases of childhood sexual abuse. Many survivors who were abused as children repress memories of the events due to the extensive psychological trauma resulting from abuse. Children who are abused often fail to recall the abuse until much later in their adulthood. Nearly every state provides that the statute of limitations may be tolled for civil actions while the claimant is a minor. In addition, many states adopted extensions of the statute of limitations for claims of sexual abuse of minors based on the “discovery” rule. This rule recognizes that time limitations may have expired by the time the survivor acknowledges the abuse or is able to connect the incident with the damage he/she has suffered for years.
The Statute of Limitations (Post-Amendments)
For many years, advocates have been lobbying for significant reforms to the statute of limitations for sexual abuse across various states. In the past year, dozens of states have ratified major amendments to laws prescribing the time periods for bringing lawsuits for childhood sexual abuse and providing revival windows for old claims.
According to childusa.org, a leading think tank for child protection laws, eighteen states and the District of Columbia have drafted new statute of limitations laws that are set to go into effect in 2019. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have passed statute of limitations laws in 2019. In all, 39 states and the District of Columbia have introduced some kind of reform in 2019. Ten states have no statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims. Despite stringent opposition from organizations like the Catholic Church, various states, including New York and New Jersey have successfully overhauled their statute of limitations to provide revival windows for claims and extend the age for filing lawsuits for childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual abuse.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, Levy Konigsberg can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. With our proven track-record of recovering millions of dollars in sex abuse cases, you can feel assured that we have the experience and knowledge to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Please call today for a free and confidential consultation with attorneys at our firm specializing in sexual abuse cases. Please call 1-800-225-9825 or submit an email inquiry above.