When Can Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors File a Claim in California?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Joel H. Siegal with Siegal & Richardson.

When Can Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors File a Claim in California?
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In most cases, personal injury claims or lawsuits are subject to a strict window of time or “statute of limitation” after which the injured party is no longer eligible to file. These statutes of limitations can vary from state to state but typically range between 2 and 4 years. However, California has made an exception for a certain kind of personal injury case, due to the fact that the injury itself often takes significant time for survivors to come to terms with. Adult victims of childhood sexual abuse may still be eligible to file a claim years after the fact, according to the California Assembly Bill No. 218.

California’s revised statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse survivors is relatively recent.

California Assembly Bill No. 218 (AB218) was signed into law by California governor Gavin Newsom and officially went into effect on January 1st of 2020. Previously, childhood sexual abuse survivors had until the age of 26 or until 3 years after the abuse to file. However, under AB218, childhood abuse survivors now have until they are 40 years old to file, and cases that were previously deemed ineligible due to the statute of limitations can continue as long as it was 3 years prior to January 1st, 2020. Additionally, under the new law, perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse may have to pay additional penalties if they attempted to cover up the abuse.

Adults who only recently realized or came to terms with their childhood sexual abuse have 5 years to file.

Regardless of the old statute of limitations, under AB218, survivors of sexual abuse who only recently acknowledged or remembered their abuse have 5 years to file a claim. This is important for many of the childhood sexual abuse victims who come to terms with the harm they suffered further down the road. It is not uncommon for victims of abuse to suffer from memory gaps or find that traumatic experiences have been deeply repressed before experiencing a triggering event as an adult. Sexual abuse victims may be eligible to seek a variety of damages in a personal injury claim, including but not limited to:

  • Cost of past, present, and future medical bills
  • Cost of past, present, and ongoing therapy
  • Lost wages or impairment of earning capacity due to the abuse
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life due to lingering effects of the trauma

Punitive damages intended to punish the other party for their conduct are not particularly common, but may also be applicable in these cases. Additional damages specific to the victim and the way that the abuse affected their life may also be included in the request for compensation in a sexual abuse lawsuit.

Talk to a childhood sexual abuse attorney to learn about your options.

It’s important to reach out to a personal injury lawyer specializing in childhood sexual abuse cases; these attorneys will be up to date on new legislation regarding the subject, and should be able to acquaint you with all of your options for recovery, as well as directing you to helpful support resources.

If talking to a lawyer sounds financially out of the question, it may help to note that most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency; this means they only get paid if and when they win. It’s also important to note that any criminal proceedings against the perpetrator do not have any bearing on the civil personal injury lawsuit; in fact, both types of litigation can commence at once, but whereas the criminal lawsuit focuses on the crime, a civil injury lawsuit focuses on restoring the victim.

To learn more about legal options for childhood sexual abuse survivors, or for help filing a claim, reach out to a sexual abuse attorney in your area.

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