There are many survivors of childhood sexual abuse who, as adults, wish to seek legal justice against the person, people, or institution responsible for their injuries.
Knowing where to start with the legal process is one of the biggest hurdles that survivors face, especially when it comes to statutes of limitations.
Every state has its own set of legal rules regarding the timeframe for pursuing a childhood sexual abuse case in civil court. Here’s what you should know.
Time Limits for Childhood Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
In the state of Kansas, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse who wish to pursue civil action against an abuser have a three-year time limit. This limit starts either when the victim reaches 18, or on the date at which the victim discovers (or should have discovered) that he or she has an injury caused by childhood sexual abuse—whichever starting date is later.
In Missouri, the time limits are different. Upon reaching 21, survivors have up to five years to file a lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse; or up to three years from the date at which the victim discovered (or should have discovered) a sexual abuse injury, whichever is later.
Seeking Legal Help for Childhood Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse cases have a unique place in the law, with many jurisdictions essentially allowing survivors extra time to file a lawsuit as adults to account for repressed memories of abuse suffered many years ago. You should also be aware the time frame for criminal charges by the state may be different—often meaning that victims will have less time to file a lawsuit than the state has to file criminal charges—and the criminal case rarely compensates survivors appropriately for the injuries they suffered.
Your attorney should be familiar with the laws in your state to provide you with the most current information about the statute of limitations where you live. However, getting the process started early is important no matter where you live to avoid running up against these legal deadlines. After the statute time period expires, the chances for a successful civil lawsuit are slim.
If you have legal questions or would like to speak to an attorney about childhood sexual abuse, please arrange a free consultation with an experienced legal professional at DRZ Law by phone or email today. Our office is conveniently located in the Kansas City metro area, and we're proud to serve communities in Kansas, Missouri, or wherever our services are needed nationwide.