As we have previously written, it is imperative that victims of sexual abuse understand how the Statute of Limitations in the state where they were abused affects their rights. After the Statute of Limitations has run, a lawsuit can no longer be filed, and a victim will be left with no civil remedy.
Many states have amended their Statutes of Limitations to allow victims of sexual abuse a longer period in which to file a civil lawsuit. Child sexual abuse is a unique type of injury, and a complaint may not be made until many years later. Often, victims are too traumatized to come forward. Not all states have amended their Statutes of Limitations, however. Many still require abuse victims to bring civil lawsuits against perpetrators and institutions within the same time frame allowed for more typical injuries, like those sustained in car accidents. Most often, this period is only two years. West Virginia is one example. In West Virginia, an injury sufferer is given two years to bring a lawsuit as an adult, or, if they are injured as a minor, two years after they turn eighteen. Practically speaking, this means many abuse victims will have until age twenty to file a lawsuit over childhood sexual what’s known as the “discovery rule.” The rule provides that an abuse victim may sue so long as the abuser prevented the plaintiff from knowing of the wrongfulness of the abuse at the time it occurred.
The plaintiff may also be given more time to file a lawsuit if the victim was unaware of their injury. In many cases, abuse victims suffer such severe psychological trauma they are oblivious to their abuse until many years later. West Virginia’s discovery rule provides them protection.
Andreozzi + Foote represents survivors of sexual abuse and other crimes nationwide, and has experience navigating state Statutes of Limitations. If you or someone you know has fallen victim to sexual abuse, sexual assault, or another crime, do not hesitate to call our office. We do not charge for phone consultations, and will do everything we can to help.