Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Idaho

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Sexual abuse is often regarded solely as a criminal matter, and many cases end with criminal prosecutions. However, this is not the only legal option for victims seeking justice. While abuse should absolutely be reported to the police, you may also file a civil lawsuit for damages.

The statute of limitations governs the deadline to file a civil lawsuit. Different types of claims have different statutes, and the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims is known to be complex. The filing deadline for adults is a mere 2 years, while those abused as children have until they are 23 to file a civil lawsuit for damages. The deadline might vary even more if you can have the statute of limitations tolled, thereby buying yourself extra time. If the defendant is criminally prosecuted, you might be able to push back your filing deadline for a civil claim. Alternatively, you might have more time if you are under a legal disability when your cause of action (i.e., the abuse) occurs.

For a confidential case review for no cost, call our sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.

The Deadline to File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Idaho

Statutes of limitations can be frustrating for plaintiffs. Properly planning and preparing a lawsuit can take a long time, and the statute of limitations might impose a very tight deadline, making it harder to get things together on time. This can be particularly troublesome for plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases. Many victims of abuse do not come forward with their claims for years, and many end up missing their deadline to file. It is best to speak to the police and an attorney about the abuse as soon as possible.

Plaintiffs Abused as Children

The statute of limitations may vary for sexual abuse cases depending on how old the victim was when the abuse happened. If the victim was a minor, their deadline might be longer than that for an adult.

According to I.D. Code § 6-1704(1), legal action must be commenced within 5 years of the day the victim turns 18. In short, victims of childhood sexual abuse in Idaho have until they are 23 years old to file a civil lawsuit for damages.

On one hand, this seems like a long time, especially if the victim was very young when the abuse occurred. However, this is a short deadline for child victims compared to many other states. Victims often do not report the abuse until they are closer to middle age. In other states, the deadline lasts until the victim is well into their 40s or 50s. In Idaho, victims of sexual abuse must act faster to take legal action.

The statute of limitations begins when the plaintiff turns 18 or sometime after they turn 18 when they actually realize the abuse is the cause of their injuries. This is an important caveat for people who might not fully remember the abuse because it happened when they were extremely young. It might also be important for people who remember the abuse but did not realize until recently that the abuse caused their injuries (physical or psychological).

Suppose the victim was repeatedly abused over time. In that case, they may compute the start date of the statute of limitations from the most recent instance of abuse, even if the injuries complained of stem from an earlier instance of abuse.

Plaintiffs Abused as Adults

Sexual abuse is unfortunately common for child victims, but many adults are also victims of abuse. While children tend to be abused by adults in their lives (e.g., parents, teachers, coaches), adults are often victimized by other adults. Friends, romantic partners, or even family members might turn out to be abusers. In Idaho, if you are victimized as an adult, you have a very short deadline to file a civil lawsuit.

According to I.D. Code § 5-219(4), an adult victim of sexual abuse has only 2 years from the date of the abuse to file a civil lawsuit for damages. The clock begins ticking on the day the abuse occurs. Again, if you are abused multiple times over the course of a longer period, our Idaho sexual abuse lawyers can calculate your deadline from the date of the most recent abuse.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Civil Claims in Idaho

The statute of limitations on almost any claim is rigid but not completely inflexible. There are specific, limited circumstances in which a plaintiff may have the deadline tolled and buy themselves additional time to file their claims. Below are just a few examples of tolling. Talk to your attorney if you believe you need additional time to file.

Criminal Prosecution

Sexual abuse almost always overlaps with criminal offenses. Many plaintiffs find that they must delay civil action while criminal action is pending. It is not unusual for criminal proceedings to drag on for a long time, sometimes years. The statute of limitations may be tolled to prevent injured plaintiffs from missing the filing deadline for a civil claim.

Under I.D. § 5-248(1), plaintiffs have until 1 year after the defendant has served a criminal sentence in full satisfaction to file a civil lawsuit. Essentially, if you report the abuse and the defendant is cranially prosecuted and found guilty, you have 1 year from the date their sentence is completely over to file a civil lawsuit. In cases of very severe abuse, defendants might go to prison for years. As such, plaintiffs might have quite a long time to prepare their claims.

Legal Disabilities

You may also have the deadline tolled if you were under a legal disability when the abuse occurred. A legal disability is usually some mental condition that inhibits a person from understanding how they have been injured or their legal rights.

According to I.D. § 5-230, the statute of limitation is tolled under the disability ends. This might be an indeterminate amount of time, but tolling in this situation cannot account for more than 6 years.

Disabilities must be present when the cause of action arises. This means the disability must exist when the sexual abuse occurs.

Contact Our Idaho Sexual Abuse Lawyers for Help Today

For a confidential case review for no cost, call our Idaho sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.


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