The Statute of Limitations to File Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Texas
Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Every state has a statute of limitations that sets deadlines for when plaintiffs are permitted to file civil lawsuits or when prosecutors must file a criminal charge. These laws are in place to ensure that defendants are not being harassed by claims that are decades old. The deadlines also help plaintiffs file a claim on a timely basis, typically before vital evidence is no longer available. Many states, including Texas, have specific statutes of limitations for sexual abuse. More importantly, lawmakers across the country have been modifying these statutes to extend the time childhood victims have to file a civil lawsuit. Below, Andrew Shubin, a Texas attorney for institutional sexual abuse victims, looks at the time limits for filing a civil case in Texas.
Texas’ Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations governs how long a victim of sexual abuse has to bring a lawsuit in civil court. Typically, if a plaintiff files a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expired, their case will be dismissed. For personal injury cases in Texas, the deadline is typically two years. However, in cases of sexual abuse or assault, the time limit is longer.
An important thing to remember is that the statute of limitations that was in place when the abuse occurred is the statute that is applied in your situation. This means, even though Texas has recently amended the statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse claims, your case could still be time-barred. It is critical to talk with our experienced Texas sexual abuse lawyer to understand how your case is affected by the various deadlines that are currently in place.
Statute of Limitations for Civil Claims in Texas
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Texas only grants a plaintiff two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. However, for victims of sexual abuse, the statute of limitations depends on several factors. For example, if the victim of abuse was a minor child, the victim has up to 30 years to file a lawsuit. Perhaps more importantly, the 30-year clock does not start counting until the victim turns 18 years of age. Therefore, no matter when the abuse occurred, if the victim was a minor, they have until their 48th birthday to file a claim.
The statute of limitations for adults is also longer than the typical time limit for injury cases. If you were an adult victim of sexual abuse or assault, the deadline is typically five years from the date of the incident. For more information on how to report sexual abuse in Texas, call our attorneys.
Older Cases of Sexual Abuse in Texas
As stated above, a childhood victim has until they turn 48 to file a civil lawsuit. Texas, along with many other states, have been reexamining their statutes of limitations concerning childhood victims of abuse. The current statute was enacted on September 1, 2019. Therefore, if the abuse occurred after that date, a victim has until their 48th birthday to file a lawsuit.
There have been two previous amendments to the statute of limitations that could impact your case depending on when the abuse happened. As stated above, the statute of limitations that was in place at the time of the abuse will dictate when you must file a claim. If the date of the abuse happened between June 5, 1995 and September 1, 2015, then you must file a lawsuit within five years from the date of your 18th birthday. For childhood victims of abuse between September 1, 2015 and September 1, 2019, the statute of limitations deadline is 15 years from the day they turn 18. It is essential to discuss the details of your case with our Texas attorney for victims of sexual abuse by a coach to understand what deadline applies.
Exceptions and Extensions to Texas’ Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse
Victims of sexual abuse undergo a harrowing experience. For many of them, just being able to talk about the incident or disclose the abuse is difficult. This is especially the case if the victim was a child when the abuse occurred. Many children will have imperfect memories or not even understand that they were abused. This is one of the reasons why Texas recently increased the time a childhood victim has available to file a civil lawsuit.
There are additional tools available for plaintiffs that our Texas sexual abuse lawyer could use to possibly extend the deadline. For example, for the statute to start to run, the victim must be of “sound mind.” Therefore, if a childhood victim suffers from a condition that makes it impossible to understand what happened, the statute could be extended until the condition no longer persists.
There is also a discovery exception available. Many childhood victims might not have known they were abused as a child. For example, memories could be repressed entirely or they might have believed what occurred was not unusual or harmful. Therefore, even if the statutory deadline passes, the clock might not begin running until the victim knows or discovers that they were abused as a child.
Call Our Texas Attorney for Sexual Abuse to Confidentially Discuss Your Case
Sexual abuse is a devastating experience that impacts the victim and their family. Many victims struggle with emotional trauma in addition to the physical harm. The compassionate staff and attorneys for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin have provided victims of abuse and their families professional legal assistance for years. If you were the victim of abuse, either as an adult or a child, you have legal rights and could be entitled to financial compensation. A civil lawsuit might provide the sense of justice and monetary award you need to help you move forward with your life. For a free and confidential appointment, call our Texas attorney for sexual abuse victims at (814) 826-3586.