Does the Statute of Limitations Apply to Sexual Abuse Cases in Pennsylvania?
Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Statutes of limitations govern time windows for filing specific types of lawsuits. If you fail to adhere to the applicable statute of limitations for your case, then you may miss out on the monetary damages you deserve. For sexual abuse cases, the statute of limitations can vary from state to state.
The statute of limitations that applies to sexual abuse cases in Pennsylvania is complex. The time limit to file your case can vary depending on several factors. Accordingly, you should contact our law firm as soon as possible to ensure that your case is brought to court on time.
If you need to file a sexual abuse lawsuit in Pennsylvania, get assistance from our sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin by dialing (814) 826-3586.
Time Limit to File a Civil Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
In 2019, legal changes have been enacted to extend the statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse cases in Pennsylvania. Those who were abused while they were children will have until they turn 55 to bring their claims to court. Additionally, those who were between 18 and 24 years of age when they were abused may file their lawsuits at any point until they turn 30 years old.
However, these rules are not applied retroactively. If your abuse occurred before the aforementioned extensions were established, then you will have to follow the rule that was in place when the event happened. Also, adults older than 24 who suffer sexual abuse must take their civil claims to court within two years.
It can be difficult to understand the time limit for filing sexual abuse lawsuits in Pennsylvania. During a free assessment of your potential case, our sexual abuse lawyers can investigate whether the time window to file your claim has passed.
Pennsylvania House of Representative Advances Bills to Temporarily Waive the Statute of Limitations for Adults Who Were Sexually Abused as Children
In February of 2023, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed measures that would temporarily waive the statute of limitations for certain sexual abuse cases. According to the proposed legislation, a two-year time window would be opened for adults who were sexually abused as children to file civil lawsuits against their attackers.
This long-sought after relief for sexual abuse victims almost came to fruition in 2021, before an error forced lawmakers to start their efforts over again. This legislative proposal could potentially appear on Pennsylvania voters’ ballots in November of 2023. If passed, victims can reach out to our experienced sexual abuse lawyers for help understanding how their potential cases may be affected.
How Long Do You Have to File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against the Church in Pennsylvania?
Those who have been sexually abused by members of the clergy in Pennsylvania can bring claims against the church for damages they caused. There is not a national statute of limitations that specifically applies to claims made against the church. In some states, survivors are afforded more time to sue the clergy. However, in Pennsylvania, the time window for filing a sexual abuse lawsuit against the church is the same as if it were filed against any other defendant. Potential plaintiffs in Pennsylvania can call our sexual abuse attorneys for help determining if they still have time to bring their claims to court.
What is a “Lookback Window” for Sexual Abuse Cases?
In most cases, statutes of limitations are not retroactive. For example, if you were abused before the extension on the time limit to file sexual abuse cases in Pennsylvania was established in 2019, then you may not be able to capitalize on the newly established regulations. Accordingly, some states have established “lookback windows” to afford victims new opportunities to file their lawsuits. A lookback window is a period of time, usually a year or two, where survivors are permitted to sue their abusers no matter how long ago their attacks occurred. States such as California, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have all enacted lookback windows for sexual abuse cases.
As of February 2023, the Pennsylvania legislature is working on a new law that will establish a two-year lookback window for victims of sexual abuse. However, the proposed amendment must be voted on by the public before it can take effect.
Are There Other Requirements that Must Be Satisfied When Filing a Civil Sexual Abuse Case in Pennsylvania?
In addition to filing your sexual abuse case in accordance with the statute of limitations, there are several other conditions that must be satisfied for your claim to prevail. For instance, you must file your lawsuit in the correct court, pay any necessary filing fees, attach required supporting documents, serve all defendants, and refrain from filing an incomplete claim. Noncompliance with any of these requirements could force you to re-file your case. Therefore, you should attempt to bring your sexual abuse lawsuit to court as soon as possible so that you have time to re-file if necessary. Fortunately, our experienced sexual abuse attorneys can provide support and guidance during each step of the process.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Criminal Sexual Abuse Cases in Pennsylvania?
Criminal sexual abuse cases are different from civil cases. A civil case seeks to compensate victims for the harm they endured. Meanwhile, criminal lawsuits are used to punish defendants for their actions. The penalties for sex crimes in Pennsylvania are quite severe. Defendants who are convicted may serve lengthy prison sentences.
A separate statute of limitations applies to criminal cases brought against sexual abusers. Prosecutors must file their claims within two years of when the crimes at issue were committed. You can consult with our experienced sexual abuse attorneys for help determining how a criminal proceeding may affect your civil claim.
If You Were Sexually Abused in Pennsylvania, Call Our Lawyers for Help Filing Your Case
If you wish to file a civil sexual abuse lawsuit, get help from our experienced sexual abuse attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin by calling (814) 826-3586.