The Statute of Limitations for a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Maryland
Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Filing a lawsuit against an abuser can help survivors of sexual abuse get the justice they deserve. The statute of limitations in Maryland varies depending on a victim’s age when abused. As laws change, survivors need to stay updated on the statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits in Maryland.
There is a difference between the filing deadline for adult and minor victims of sexual abuse in Maryland. Victims of childhood abuse have more time to file a lawsuit. New legislation has been introduced in recent years to create lookback windows and eliminate filing deadlines for some survivors. Although that legislation hasn’t been successful, it shows that perhaps more progress will be made in Maryland. That being said, it’s still important for victims to file within the current statute of limitations, or they might lose their right to sue.
Our lawyers are dedicated to supporting victims’ rights. Our team can tell you how Maryland’s filing deadlines apply to your potential case. For a free case evaluation with the compassionate Maryland sexual abuse victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call today at (814) 826-3586.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Maryland?
Survivors of sexual abuse need to know the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit in their state. Each state has a different filing deadline, which can change as new legislation is introduced over time. Maryland, for example, has recently changed the statute of limitations for some minor survivors but not adult victims of sexual abuse.
In the past, minor victims had just three years from the last instance of abuse to file a lawsuit in Maryland. Today, victims who were abused after October 1, 2010, have more time to file a lawsuit. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse can sue a third-party offender for seven years from the day before their 18th birthday. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for minors begins the day before they turn 18. In terms of sexual abuse lawsuits, third parties can be institutions like schools or churches. The current Maryland statute of limitations to file a lawsuit against a direct offender is 20 years after a survivor’s 18th birthday.
If survivors and their attorneys can prove that a third-party offender was grossly negligent, victims may also be able to sue the third party at any time within 20 years of their 18th birthday. Victims can sue a negligent third party, like an institution or individual whose negligence or intentional wrongful act contributed to abuse. For example, if you were abused while at school and your school intentionally ignored the abuse, allowing it to continue, the school could be liable. If an institution or individual owed a duty of care to a victim, or had some responsibility for an abuser, they can be sued in Maryland.
Unfortunately, Maryland’s recent alteration of the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual abuse in 2017 was only partially retroactive. That means that minors who were sexually abused before October 1, 2010, can’t sue a predator if the previous statute of limitations has already lapsed in their case.
Adult victims of sexual abuse have just three years to file a lawsuit against a perpetrator in Maryland. Three years is not a very long time. Some victims have difficulty coming to terms with sexual abuse and, unfortunately, may miss the deadline to file. Although it can be difficult to sue a perpetrator before you’re ready, it’s important to speak with a lawyer. The Law Office of Andrew Shubin’s Maryland sexual abuse victim attorneys can inform you of your options. That way, adult victims can decide whether or not to sue and learn their rights as survivors of sexual abuse before the deadline has passed. For example, victims with mental disabilities or temporary incapacities that prevent them from understanding sexual abuse or make them incapable of consent have three years from the removal of their disability to sue. Because some mental disabilities are permanent, such victims could file a lawsuit at any point in time, usually with the help of a family member or guardian.
Does Maryland Have a Lookback Window for Sexual Abuse Lawsuits?
Lookback windows are specific periods that allow victims of sexual abuse to sue an offender, even if the statute of limitations has previously lapsed. While Maryland currently does not have a lookback window, the recent change in filing deadlines for minors allows some victims to pursue litigation.
Some states have begun to extend the statute of limitations to file a sexual abuse lawsuit in recent years. For example, Maryland lengthened the filing deadline for some minor victims in 2017. However, that extension does not apply to minor victims who experienced abuse before October 2010. These new changes in statutes of limitations benefit some, but not all, victims of abuse. If you’re having difficulty understanding the new filing deadlines in Maryland, and want to know whether or not they apply to you, ask a lawyer. The Law Office of Andrew Shubin’s sexual abuse victim attorneys stay updated on these changes and can help you understand them.
If the statute of limitations to file a sexual abuse lawsuit against a perpetrator in Maryland has passed, don’t lose hope. There has been a recent push in Maryland to retroactively allow abuse victims to sue an offender. The Hidden Predator Act of 2020, which has since failed, sought to eliminate statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse victims. Although the Hidden Predator Act was not passed, it is a promising sign that perhaps the filing deadline for certain victims of sexual assault will continue to lengthen.
This Act indicates that there is potential for a lookback window in Maryland. Other states have lookback windows that allow victims to file a lawsuit, regardless of when their abuse occurred. If you’ve missed the filing deadline for a sexual abuse lawsuit, that doesn’t mean you will never be able to sue an offender. As sexual abuse survivors and advocates push for longer statutes of limitations, Maryland may amend existing laws or continue to introduce new legislation.
Our Attorneys Can Help You File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Maryland
Survivors of sexual abuse need to know the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit in Maryland. Call the compassionate Maryland sexual abuse victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin for a free case evaluation today at (814) 826-3586.