Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Sexual abuse victims often suffer for years after the abuse stops. Even a single instance of abuse can leave lasting psychological scars. Sexual abuse victims deserve justice and compensation, but getting those things is fraught with legal complexities.
It is very common for abuse victims to wait to report the abuse and take legal action against abusers. For those who were sexually abused as children, the time to file lasts until age 30. Adult victims must file within 2 years. However, there is new legislation that, if passed, would expand the statute of limitations and allow older people to sue for the abuse they suffered years before. Damages may include economic losses, but the focus is more on non-economic injuries like pain and suffering. Depending on how long ago you experienced sexual abuse, the defendant might be criminally charged when you come forward with your claims. In that case, we might need to wait for a criminal trial to finish before commencing a civil lawsuit.
Call our lawyers for victims of sexual abuse at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 to make an appointment for a confidential, free review of your case.
When Can I File a Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse in Lancaster?
One of the biggest issues surrounding sexual abuse claims is the time in which plaintiffs must submit their cases to the court. The statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases differs depending on when the abuse occurred. People abused as children often have a longer deadline than those abused as adults.
If you were under 18 when the sexual abuse happened, you have 12 years from your 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. For many, this means they must submit their claims by their 30th birthday. The deadline for those who were adults when they were abused is unfortunately much shorter. If you were an adult when the abuse happened, you only have 2 years from when the abuse occurred to file a lawsuit.
A major factor our attorneys for victims of sexual abuse will consider when determining your deadline to file is the duration of the abuse. It is common for victims of sexual abuse to be abused multiple times over an extended period. For example, many people report being abused for years, often by someone close to them. Generally, the statute of limitations begins on the date of the most recent instance of abuse.
For example, suppose a plaintiff experienced sexual abuse from the age of 20 to 25. As an adult victim, they have 2 years to file their claim. Those two years should begin ticking away from the most recent abuse when they were 25, not when the abuse began at age 20. As such, they must file their claim by the time they are 27, not 22.
It should be noted that there is pending legislation in Pennsylvania that would expand the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims for both child and adult victims. Potential new laws could extend the statute of limitations to age 55 for child victims and open a 2-year window for victims who were previously time-barred from filing their claims.
Possible Damages in Lancaster Sexual Abuse Cases
As with many other kinds of lawsuits, damages play a significant role. Sexual abuse victims can claim economic and non-economic damages, but non-economic damages tend to be the more prominent of the two.
Economic damages are related to money and costs. If the sexual abuse you experienced led to economic losses, you can claim those losses as part of your damages. For example, victims of sexual violence often seek emergency medical treatment. In such cases, they can claim their medical bills as part of their damages. Since many plaintiffs file claims for sexual abuse that occurred many years ago, they might not be as worried about economic damages as they as emotional injuries.
Non-economic damages are often the primary focus when assessing damages in sexual abuse claims. Non-economic damages include losses, injuries, or experiences that might not have taken a direct financial toll but still deeply and negatively impacted your life. Emotional anguish and physical pain from the abuse should definitely be considered here.
On top of that, the process of reporting the abuse can be traumatic. Many abuse victims feel humiliated when they inform family members and friends about what happened to them, and they can factor that humiliation into their calculation for damages.
Criminal Charges in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Lancaster
Depending on how long ago the defendant sexually abused you, they might face criminal charges in addition to your civil claims. Just like civil claims, criminal charges also have statutes of limitations, and prosecutors might be unable to file charges if too much time has passed.
Under recent legislation passed in 2019, there is no criminal statute of limitations if the victim of sexual abuse was younger than 18 when the abuse occurred. If the victim was an adult younger than 24 when the abuse occurred, the criminal statute of limitations is 20 years. For adults at least 24 years of age who were sexually abused, the typical statute of limitation for serious sexual offenses is 12 years.
If the defendant is criminally charged, your civil lawsuit might be put on hold. Generally, criminal proceedings take priority over civil claims. However, if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, we can use that conviction as evidence in your lawsuit.
Unfortunately, many defendants are never criminally charged, especially if a long time has passed since the abuse occurred. Often, the statute of limitations for criminal charges has passed by the time the abuse is reported, or there is simply not enough evidence for prosecutors to file charges. As such, your civil lawsuit might be your best chance to get the justice you rightly deserve.
Call Our Lancaster Sexual Abuse Attorneys Today
Reach out to The Law Office of Andrew Shubin by calling (814) 826-3586 and make an appointment for a confidential, free review of your case with our attorneys for victims of sexual abuse.