Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Maine

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Sexual abuse is a heinous criminal offense, and abusers should be held responsible for the pain they cause. Victims may seek justice through the civil courts, but cases must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

The statute of limitations can be tricky. In sexual abuse cases, there may be more than one statute, depending on how old you were when the abuse occurred. For those who experienced sexual abuse as adults, a shorter time limit of only 6 years may apply. The rule for childhood abuse is more generous. Those abused as minors are unrestricted by time limits, and the law allows claims to be filed at any time. This means childhood cases of sexual abuse may be filed decades after the abuse first happens. While you have the right to file such a claim, it might be hard to try in court. Evidence, witnesses, and even defendants might disappear over time. Even so, it would be best if you spoke to our legal team about your case. The best time to take action and secure justice is now.

Get a free, confidential assessment of your case by calling our Maine sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.

When You Can File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse Claims in Maine

If your civil claim is not filed by the deadline imposed under the statute of limitations, your case may be quickly denied. Challenging claims based on the statute of limitations is a very common defense tactic, especially in cases of sexual abuse. Victims tend to wait a long time before reporting abuse, and plaintiffs often run out of time. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to determine if you can still file a claim.

Plaintiffs Abused as Adults

Different rules apply to different plaintiffs depending on how old they were when the sexual abuse happened. For people who were abused as adults, there is a very tight time limit. According to 14 M.R.S. § 752, you only have 6 years from the date of the abuse to file a civil lawsuit. Because sexual abuse victims often wait many years before reporting abuse, this is an extremely limited amount of time.

This is a sort of catch-all statute. No other statutes specifically address adult victims of sexual abuse, so their civil claims fall under this broad statute. It may also apply to various injury claims that do not involve sexual abuse.

Adult victims tend to have less time because they are more capable of taking legal action than children. As discussed below, people abused as kids have much more time to file a civil lawsuit.

Plaintiffs Abused as Children

Cases involving childhood sexual abuse can be incredibly challenging. Children usually cannot report the abuse for years. They might be frightened of retaliation from their abuser. Their abuser might be close to their family, and the child fears not being believed and ostracized. Even worse, the child might come forward and tell an adult, but the adult chooses to side with the abuser. Many kids are trapped in cycles of abuse they cannot break until they are adults.

According to 14 M.R.S. § 752-C(1), there is no limitation on claims of childhood sexual abuse. These claims may be filed at any time. Even if multiple decades separate you from the abuse, you may file a civil claim against the abuser.

This is the result of a new law enacted in 2021. According to 14 M.R.S.§ 752-C(3), the law is retroactive, meaning it applies to all childhood sexual abuse cases, even those from before the law was enacted. This means that claims that might have been time-barred under an older statute limitations are revived. Even if you were abused many years ago, you should speak to our Maine sexual abuse attorneys about filing a claim.

What Should I Do if My Sexual Abuse Claims in Maine Are from a Long Time Ago?

Even if your painful experience happened long ago, you should still talk to a lawyer. One of the biggest issues that plaintiffs face is a lack of evidence. Evidence of the abuse might be lost to time. Then again, it might not be. You might be surprised to learn what evidence our attorneys can uncover. Medical records from the time when you were being abused, witnesses, and other evidence might still be obtainable.

We should also consider the parties involved. Are the people or entities you would name as defendants still around? Many people abused as children do not file claims until they are older adults. In some cases, abusers have since passed away. However, there may be others who bear responsibility. For example, a plaintiff abused by a teacher might sue the school even if the teacher is no longer around.

When is the Right Time to File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse in Maine

The sooner you meet with a lawyer to discuss your case, the better. Getting started as soon as possible after the abuse occurs reduces the risk of losing evidence. We may be better able to hold abusers responsible, and you can get justice and closure.

However, many sexual abuse victims do not come forward with claims very quickly. It is incredibly common for people to wait years before reporting abuse. Trying these cases is often difficult, as evidence might be lost, and defendants might have died or left the state.

There are some common reasons why victims of abuse wait so long to come forward. Many people were just kids when they were abused and could not take action on their own. Many others are intimidated or threatened by abusers into staying silent. Some fear being accused of lying. This is especially problematic when abusers are trusted pillars of their community. People sometimes do not want to believe that a teacher, coach, or priest could be capable of hurting a child.

In cases of adults, the victim and abuser might be in a romantic relationship. In cases of partners or spouses with children, the victim does not want to put their child’s other parent in jail. Putting an end to the abuse and securing justice is not an easy feat, but it is not impossible.

Contact Our Maine Sexual Abuse Attorneys Today

Call our Maine sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 for a free, confidential assessment of your case.


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