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Statute of Limitations and Look-Back Windows for Sexual Abuse Cases

By: Dean Kaire, Esq. Apr 08, 2022
Last updated Mar 20, 2023
Main > Our Blog > Statute of Limitations and Look-Back Windows for Sexual Abuse Cases
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Over the last few years, several high-profile cases raised public awareness to the realities, dangers, and outcomes of sexual abuse. With cases like Jeffrey Epstein, the Boy Scouts, and the Catholic Church, more data on survivors of this form of abuse has come to light. One of the more glaring statistics that has come to light is that almost 80% of sexual abuse of children goes unreported into adulthood, per the National Child Assault Prevention Project. It takes survivors an average age of 14 years to come forward and report the abuse suffered.

With statistics like these now being widely accepted, some states have recognized that their current statute of limitations fail to provide an adequate remedy for many survivors of sexual abuse. Statutes of limitations set a period of time that Plaintiffs have to bring legal claims. These time periods vary from state to state. Some states, like Florida, have amended their laws so that after July 1, 2020, any victim of sexual abuse under the age of 18 years has no time limit on when they may bring a claim. Yet, other states provide for a harsh 2-year period, with no exception made as it relates to the victim’s age. Well-versed lawyers will often try to argue ways to extend the time limit, but these often present to be one of the biggest obstacles to providing justice for survivors of sexual abuse.

Recognizing that many statutes of limitations often fail to provide justice for survivors, lawyers and organizations that serve as advocates for victims have pushed state legislatures to open look-back windows for survivors of sexual abuse. Look-Back windows provide an opportunity for survivors whose claims have expired by creating a window of time to bring their expired claims. California, North Carolina, and Vermont have put these windows in to effect after New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. opened two-year windows at the beginning of 2019.

Retaining attorneys who not only understand current laws, limitations, and look-back windows, but who are also willing to advocate for statute of limitations reform and look-back windows is critical if you or a loved one are a survivor of sexual abuse.

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