Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Arkansas

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Victims of sexual abuse might take years to come forward about what happened to them.  Laws that require them to turn around and file a lawsuit for sexual abuse with a short filing window are often insufficient to protect victims.  Fortunately, Arkansas passed laws lifting the filing deadline for underaged victims of sexual abuse.

Arkansas’ current law gives childhood victims of sexual abuse an unlimited time to file their sexual abuse claim.  The same law that extended the deadline to file created a “lookback window” to allow cases that were otherwise barred to come forward.  As of the writing of this article, the initial window has closed, but a new one opened from February 1, 2024 to January 31, 2026.  There is, however, still a deadline for victims who faced sexual abuse as adults.

For a free, confidential case assessment on your sex abuse case, call the lawyers for victims of sexual abuse in Arkansas at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 today.

How Long Do Victims of Sexual Abuse Have to File a Lawsuit in Arkansas?

Thinking back to the specific dates of what happened to you might be difficult, especially if your abuse happened a long time ago or while you were a child.  The law is somewhat lenient in this area, giving victims a broad right to sue that lasts for years after the abuse ends.

Generally, Ark. Code § 16-56-105 gives adult victims only 3 years to file their claim.  As such, it is vital to talk to our attorneys for victims of sexual abuse in Arkansas right away and get your case moving.  If you are having difficulty pinning down the exact dates of abuse, note that with a pattern of abuse, you can often use the last date of abuse as the starting point for the 3-year filing period when suing for all of the abuse in the same string.

For victims who were sexually abused as children, the law is much more flexible and may make pinning down the exact dates of abuse unnecessary.  Victims of childhood sexual abuse have an unlimited time to file under Ark. Code § 16-118-118(b)(1).  This law used to give victims only until age 21, then it was amended in 2021 to give victims until age 55.  Now, with the recognition that many victims do not come forward about sexual abuse until they are in their 50s, the law has skipped any time limitations for filing these cases.

Is the Removal of the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Cases Retroactive in Arkansas?

When the law changes for statute of limitations, it usually only applies to cases going forward.  This would mean that you need to compare the date of your abuse to the date the law was changed to see which law applies.  Fortunately, this is not currently necessary because Arkansas also instituted a “lookback window,” and cases that might otherwise be blocked by an old statute of limitations can be filed during this time period.

In 2021 when the statute of limitations was extended to age 55, the Arkansas Legislature created a 2-year lookback window from January 28, 2021 to January 31, 2023, in which any case could be filed, even if it was already barred from the expired statute of limitations.  This resulted many victims seeking compensation.

The legislature decided when they lifted the statute of limitations in April 2023 to create a second lookback window, giving a new 2-year period for anyone to file.

Note that this current rule was signed into law on April 11, 2023, and that cases that occurred before that might still be controlled by the statute of limitations that was in effect at the time of the conduct if they are not filed inside the lookback window.  That means you might have until age 55 if your abuse happened between April 29, 2021 (when the 55-year statute of limitations was signed into law) and April 11, 2023 (when the statute of limitations was lifted).  If your abuse took place before April 29, 2021, then the deadline giving you until age 21 might still control your case, and it must be filed within the lookback window if you are already over age 21.

What is the Lookback Window for Childhood Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Arkansas?

Under the same statute, there is a current 2-year lookback window in effect as of the writing of this article.  Under this law, anyone can file a case that would have been time-barred as long as they file it between February 1, 2024 and January 31, 2026.  This essentially means that even if you were previously blocked by the statute of limitations when the rule was age 21 or age 55, you can now file your case until the window closes.

If you believe that you were the victim of sexual abuse, do not hesitate to file during this window.  Although the legislature opened two separate lookback windows, there is no guarantee that they will open a third.  This means you might need to file your case before January 31, 2026 to get justice or risk never having another chance to file.

Why is There a Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Arkansas?

The purpose of a statute of limitations is to block cases from being filed years and years after the events took place.  The fear is that defendants could spend their lives looking over their shoulders, fearing that an old issue might resurface.  There are also fears that evidence might be old or outdated and be unfair to use.  However, the legislature in Arkansas has weighed these factors and decided that it is more important to give victims the right to file their claims, even if the filing comes well into the abuse victim’s 50s.

As such, Arkansas currently has no statute of limitations for filing a sexual abuse lawsuit for childhood victims of sexual abuse.  While the old statute of limitations that was in effect might time-bar cases after the lookback window closes, any cases going forward are not burdened by a filing deadline, and victims going forward can come forward at whatever time is right to them.

These factors are still apparently important enough when it comes to adult victims, as the 3-year filing deadline has not been lifted for people abused as adults.

Call Our Sexual Abuse Victim Attorneys in Arkansas Today

For a free case assessment, call (814) 826-3586 to speak with the lawyers for sexual abuse victims in Arkansas at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin.


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