Statute of Limitations to File Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Alabama

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Victims of sexual abuse often spend many years coping and coming to terms with what happened to them. As such, filing civil lawsuits against abusers can be difficult, as many plaintiffs end up waiting too long.

You only have 2 years from when the abuse occurred to file a claim. If you were abused as a child, you have 2 years from the day you turn 18. However, there is hope for the future. In 2023, a new law was introduced in the state legislature to extend the deadline. While this bill ultimately did not pass, there may be more like it in the future. If you cannot sue because the deadline has run out, a future law might reopen the door for your claims. Our attorneys can help you get justice for what happened to you. If civil claims are out of the question, we can help you report your case to the police, and criminal charges might be assessed.

If you or someone close to you was the victim of sexual abuse, call our Alabama sexual abuse attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin right away at (814) 826-3586.

When Victims of Sexual Abuse Can File Lawsuits for Damages in Alabama

The statute of limitations on civil claims for sexual abuse in Alabama is notoriously harsh towards potential plaintiffs. The statute of limitations that applies to sexual abuse in this state also applies to many other intentional tort cases, like assault and battery. The law, according to Ala. Code § 6-2-34(1), gives potential plaintiffs just 6 years to file a lawsuit for sexual abuse.

This is an extremely limited opportunity for abuse survivors to come forward and seek justice. For many other types of claims, 6 years might sound like plenty of time to begin a case. Sexual abuse cases are different. Victims often wrestle with complex feelings of fear and shame that often prevent them from coming forward. It is not unusual for victims of sexual abuse to come forward about the abuse decades after it happened. When you do decide to come forward, our Alabama sexual abuse attorneys can help you take your claims to court.

It can be even more difficult for abuse victims who are children when the abuse happens. Not only are children unable to file legal claims on their own behalf, but they are often not believed by the adults in their lives or are forced into silence by those who would want to protect the abuser. This is common in cases where a child is the victim of a family member, and other relatives wish to protect the abuser rather than the child.

Possible Changes to the Alabama Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

If the deadline for your sexual abuse claims is fast approaching or has already passed, there might still be hope. In 2023, Alabama Senate Bill 127 was introduced in the state legislature and sought to extend the statute of limitations. While this bill did not become law, it is not the first bill of its kind in Alabama and is unlikely to be the last.

The bill would have added to the statute under Ala. Code § 6-2-8 that pertains to legal disabilities and tolling the statute of limitations. Under the current statute, a person may have the statute of limitations tolled if they are younger than 19 when their cause of action arises, or they are “insane,” meaning they lack the mental capacity to understand their rights or file their claims.

Currently, if you were younger than 19 when you were sexually abused, you have 6 years from the day you turn 19 to file a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse.

SB 127 would have extended the 6-year deadline to 36 years. So, instead of submitting your case by age 25, you would have until age 55. This is important for several reasons. First, many people, especially child victims, do not come forward with their claims right away. Even if they do, children might be accused of lying or ignored by the adults in their lives.

Second, many people wait years and years before reporting sexual abuse. It is incredibly common for people to first report childhood sexual abuse when they reach their 40s or 50s. The current cut-off at age 25 is too short to truly help young plaintiffs get their claims in court.

Can I Still Sue if I Was Sexually Abused in Alabama a Long Time Ago?

While the above bill did not pass last year, it is not the first time such a bill has been introduced. It is unlikely to be the last time. At some point in the future, Alabama might follow the lead of numerous other states and extend the statute of limitation on sexual abuse civil claims.

Senate Bill 127 would have applied retroactively, meaning many previously time-barred cases would have been revived, at least for a certain amount of time. This means that if you were time-barred from filing your claims because you were older than 25 when the new bill would have taken effect, your claims would have been revived for a period of 2 years.

While this retroactive revival of claims unfortunately did not come to pass, there is still a chance it, or something like it, might take effect in the future. In the meantime, if you are currently unable to file a lawsuit because the current statute of limitations has expired, you should still talk to an attorney.

Some people believe they cannot file because it has been too long but are surprised to find they are incorrect. Many victims of sexual abuse are abused multiple times over a period of years. This is tragically common in cases of childhood sexual abuse. The statute of limitations should run from the date of the most recent instance of abuse.

Our Alabama Sexual Abuse Lawyers Are Here to Help You Get Justice

If you or someone close to you was the victim of sexual abuse, call our Alabama sexual abuse attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin right away at (814) 826-3586.


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