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How Long Do I Have to Sue a Sexual Abuser?

by | Mar 8, 2022 | Child Injury, Human Trafficking, Personal Injury, Sexual Assault

Adult and Child Sexual Abuse Statutes of Limitations in Maryland

Research shows that survivors of sexual abuse or assault can take years to come forward. Recalling what happened before a person is ready can be traumatizing, causing painful emotional and mental distress. Recognizing this, Maryland has passed legislation designed to protect survivors and allow them to pursue a civil lawsuit against their abuser.

The sexual abuse attorneys at Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A. understand how difficult it can be to come forward after experiencing unthinkable harm. We provide compassionate, client-focused representation for sexual abuse and assault survivors. If you have experienced sexual abuse as an adult or child, contact our office at (410) 685-2022 for a free, confidential consultation.

Maryland Statute of Limitations for Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors

In Maryland, a sexual abuse or assault victim who is over the age of 18 when the crime occurs has two (2) important deadlines with respect to assault and battery claims against the individual perpetrator. If you want to file a civil lawsuit in Maryland for assault, the statute of limitations is one (1) year from the date of the assault; however, if you want to file a civil lawsuit in Maryland for battery, the statute of limitations is three (3) years from the date of the battery (the unwanted physical touching). . 

With respect to a civil lawsuit against a third party for negligence arising out of sexual abuse or assault, a victim that is over the age of 18 when the assault occurs has the standard three (3) years from the date of the alleged negligence. It is important to discuss your case with a sexual abuse lawyer as early as possible.

Sexual abuse and assault can happen to men or women at any age. Despite the lifelong impact that this form of trauma can have, studies indicate that many cases go unreported. Coming forward with your experience may help you get the resources you need to cope with what happened and help others that may in the same or similar circumstance.

Child Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations

In child sexual abuse cases, Maryland allows survivors longer to file a civil lawsuit. A law passed in 2017 moved the age cap from 25 to 38 years old for individuals who allege that they were sexually abused as a child. 

Prior to passage of this law, the statute of limitations for a childhood sex abuse case was seven (7) years from the survivor’s 18th birthday. Thus, a person would have until the age of 25 to file a civil claim against an abuser.

Many survivors are still struggling to understand what happened to them as a child when they enter early adulthood.  By extending the age cap to 38 years old, more child sexual abuse survivors are able to come forward when they are ready. 

However, the recent law did not come without conditions. First, the extended statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases only applies to actions against the perpetrator  – any negligence cases against third parties arising out of the abuse are only subject to the extended statute if the lawsuit alleges “gross negligence,” which is defined as an intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another, and also implies a thoughtless disregard of the consequences without the exertion of any effort to avoid them. 

Second, the law contains an important, and often overlooked, requirement. The extended statute of limitations does not apply to any victim who turned twenty-five (25) prior to the date the law was enacted, October 1, 2017. In other words, if a victim turned twenty-five (5) before October 1, 2017, the claim is time barred against the perpetrator and any third-party. 

New Legislation Being Considered

Additional legislation under consideration would remove the statute of limitations altogether for child sex abuse cases and give a two-year retroactive window for individuals who had previously been prevented from filing a civil suit.

What to Do If You Have Been Sexually Abused

In the event that you have or are experiencing sexual abuse, you should know that you are not alone. You deserve to be heard and see your abuser held responsible. You should not have to stay silent or endure the abuse. 

At Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner, & Davey, P.A. we can help put you in touch with the appropriate law enforcement agencies and support programs. Our primary focus is on getting you the care, treatment, and compensation you need to fully recover. We will fight to hold ALL responsible parties accountable including the perpetrator and any third-party that enabled or excused the abuse.

Contact Our Office for a Free, Confidential Consultation

As a survivor, you should not have to go through this alone. We are here to help. Our legal team has represented both children and adult survivors of sexual abuse and assault. 

To find out more about your legal options including how to file a civil claim against your abuser or a third-party, contact our office at (410) 685-2022. All consultations are free and without obligation to retain our services. Call now to get started.

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