Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Minnesota

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

While sex abuse is a criminal offense, it is not always reported, and many abusers do not face criminal repercussions. However, victims may sue abusers in civil court and get financial compensation for the pain they have endured.

While sexual abuse is largely thought of as a criminal matter, victims can also seek justice through civil courts. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in civil claims for sexual abuse is the statute of limitations, at least for adults. If you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child, there is no limit on when you can file a civil lawsuit. Plaintiffs abused as adults, however, have only 6 years to file a lawsuit. If the statute of limitations in your case has expired, talk to an attorney. There might be legal options that can help you buy extra time. Since many abuse victims wait a long time before coming forward, it is important to discuss the date your limitations period begins.

Our Minnesota sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin are available for a free case review when you call (814) 826-3586.

Suing for Sexual Abuse in Minnesota

People often hear about sexual abuse cases as they relate to criminal proceedings. For example, you might read in the newspaper about someone being arrested and criminally charged for sexual abuse. However, there is more than one way for victims of sexual abuse to get justice. Victims may sue abusers in civil court for financial compensation.

Criminal and civil cases are largely unconnected. You may sue someone in civil court for sexual abuse whether or not they were arrested, charged, and found guilty. You can sue them even if they are found not guilty by a jury in criminal court. For many, a civil lawsuit is the only way to achieve justice, as there might be limited evidence, making a conviction in criminal court difficult or highly unlikely.

The problem is twofold. First, civil claims are often restricted by a statute of limitations that creates a time limit on when a plaintiff must file a case. Second, many victims of sexual abuse wait a long time before coming forward. Abuse victims often deal with public shame after coming forward and fear of retaliation from abusers. As such, it is not uncommon for victims to wait years, even decades, before reporting sexual abuse.

For these reasons, it is crucial that you talk to the police and our Minnesota sexual abuse lawyers about your case as soon as possible. The sooner you take action, the more likely that police will find evidence during their investigation, and the more likely we will prove your claims in civil court.

When You Must File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse in Minnesota

The statute of limitations does not apply the same to all plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases. There are different limitation periods for plaintiffs abused as children and those abused as adults.

Childhood Abuse

The statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse can be found under Minn. Stat. Ann. § § 541.073 Subd. 2(a)(2)-(3). The law holds that victims of childhood sexual abuse may file a civil lawsuit for the abuse at any time. There is no limitation period. You may file a case many years after the abuse.

While this is great news for many abuse victims who were victimized as young children, there is an important caveat to keep in mind. If the defendant was 14 or younger when the abuse occurred, a civil lawsuit must be filed before they turn 24. This is extremely important in cases where a child is sexually abused by another child. For example, an older child might abuse a younger one in a school locker room. Maybe a young babysitter sexually abused their younger charges. Both your age and the defendant’s age might be very important to filing your case on time.

Adult Victims

Plaintiffs who were adults when the abuse occurred have a much less generous limitation period. According to Minn. Stat. Ann. § 541.073, Subd. 2(a)(1), the plaintiff has 6 years from the date of the abuse to file a civil lawsuit. Remember, this only applies to people who were adults when the abuse occurred. If you were a child when the abuse happened but filed a lawsuit as an adult, your case would follow the limitation period for children discussed above.

It is also worth noting that statutes of limitations usually run from the most recent instance of abuse, not the first instance. People are often abused multiple times over many months or even years. For example, an adult might be repeatedly sexually abused by a romantic partner or spouse for years before they come forward, report the abuse, and file a case. Even if the abuse started more than 6 years ago, you can still file your case if the most recent abuse is within 6 years.

What to Do if the Statute of Limitations on Your Minnesota Sexual Abuse Case Has Expired?

Contact an attorney if you think the statute of limitations for your case has expired or will soon.

Calculating the date from which a plaintiff’s limitation period should run can be difficult. This is especially true in sexual abuse cases. Plaintiffs often wait many years or even decades before coming forward with abuse. Determining the precise date of the last instance of abuse might be challenging.

Our team can review your case and possibly determine a more accurate date that is still within the limitations period. We can also look into tolling options. Under very specific circumstances, plaintiffs may have the statute of limitations tolled, buying them additional time. For example, people with mental disabilities that prevent them from understanding their rights might have the limitations period tolled until their disability is removed.

We might instead try to have the statute tolled if the defendant purposefully interfered with your ability to file the case. Did the defendant intimidate you into remaining silent? Maybe you are still close with them, and they threatened retaliation if you sued. We might be able to extend the deadline to make up for the time you lost.

Contact Our Minnesota Sexual Abuse Lawyers for Legal Support Today

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


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