Statute of Limitations to File Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Arizona

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

The time limit plaintiffs have to file civil claims varies based on the nature of their claims. Sexual abuse claims are subject to a strict statute of limitations, but that statute has changed in the past few years.

Up until a few years ago, victims of sexual abuse in Arizona had only 2 years in which to file a lawsuit against the abuser. Sexual abuse claims followed the statute of limitations for general personal injuries. However, in 2019, a new law that expanded this time limit to 12 years was passed. While this is a marked improvement, it is still a tight window, and it is imperative that victims meet with lawyers and the police as soon as possible. Your attorney needs as much time as possible to prepare your case, including finding evidence and assessing damages. Navigating the judicial process can be difficult, especially since many abuse victims do not come forward with their claims for years.

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

When You Can File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse in Arizona

Up until relatively recently, civil claims for sexual abuse adhered to the statute of limitations that applied to most personal injury claims. Under Arizona Statute § 12-542, this statute imposes a very tight 2-year deadline for plaintiffs to file their claims in court. For adults, the short deadline begins to count down on the day the abuse happens. For minors, the clock does not start ticking until they turn 18, meaning they have until they are 20 years old to file a case.

Such a narrow deadline for claims as serious as those involving sexual abuse is extremely unfair to victims and survivors. Luckily, state lawmakers in Arizona agreed. In May 2019, a new law was passed extending the statute of limitation for sexual abuse cases.

Under the new rule, abuse survivors have 12 years to file their claims under Arizona Statute § 12-514. For minors, the deadline begins to run from their 18th birthday. In that case, our Arizona sexual abuse lawyers must submit a claim by the time the plaintiff turns 30.

According to House Bill 2466, which was passed in May of 2019, the law that extended the deadline for victims of sexual abuse to file civil claims also applies retroactively. Victims who might have been time-barred under the old law were able to revive their claims for a limited period. The look-back window closed on December 31, 2020.

Why the Arizona Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Claims is Important

The old law was extremely restrictive. Many victims wait years before coming forward with claims of sexual abuse. A deadline of only 2 years made it nearly impossible for victims to sue their abusers for their pain and damages.

The new law, while allowing victims a much longer time to file claims, is still relatively short compared to many other states. The law passed in Arizona in May of 2019 is not unique. Many other states across the country have passed similar laws extending the statute of limitation on civil claims for sexual abuse. Arizona’s law, while an improvement, is still somewhat narrow. Other states allow victims to file lawsuits well into their 50s. Arizona allows victims to sue until the age of the 30.

The statute of limitations is always an important consideration in any legal action, but it is of particular significance in Arizona sexual abuse cases. Because of the tight deadline, many cases are time-barred every year.

It is very common for survivors of sexual abuse to wait many years before reporting the abuse. While the new law allows plaintiffs 12 years to come forward and file a case, this is often not enough time. As such, if you or someone close to you was the victim of sexual abuse at some point, you need to speak with an attorney immediately.

How to Prepare Your Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Arizona

Your attorneys can help you prepare your sexual abuse claims. This can be a very scary and emotional experience for plaintiffs, as many of them feel as if they are reliving the abuse for a second time. While taking legal action for sexual abuse can be difficult, to say the least, you deserve justice, and your lawyer can help you get it.

Finding Evidence

One of the most challenging aspects of many sexual abuse cases is finding evidence to support your claims. Evidence can be difficult to get for various reasons, but it can be especially troublesome in sexual abuse cases when plaintiffs have waited several years to bring the case.

Often, plaintiffs face disappearing evidence and witnesses who have moved, forgotten, or died. An attorney with experience handling sexual abuse cases might know where to find evidence and how to build your case effectively.

Physical evidence is often scant in these situations, although you should discuss the possibility of physical evidence with your lawyer. A good place to begin is with hospital records. When you were abused, you might have been badly hurt and taken to a doctor. Even if you did not report the abuse to your doctor, there should still be records of the injuries and your treatment. These records might help us show a jury that your injuries were very real, even if they were from a long time ago.

We should also investigate for witnesses. Maybe you talked to a close friend or family member about the abuse. If they are still around, they might remember talking about the abuse back then. It is also possible that others knew about the abuse or were even abused themselves.

Assessing Damages

Your lawyers should also help you evaluate your damages. Damages are generally based on the economic costs of the injuries and mental or emotional distress and trauma. While economic costs are possible in sexual abuse cases (e.g., hospital bills from your injuries), the main focus will likely be non-economic pain and suffering.

The psychological scars of sexual abuse can last a lifetime. Many people take so much time to come forward about their experiences because of the psychological turmoil involved. Many victims are not only living in fear of their abusers, but they risk ostracization when they come forward. Your pain and suffering may be quite significant, and we can work to convince a jury that you deserve substantial compensation.

Contact Our Arizona Sexual Abuse Lawyers for Help Now

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


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