Can I Still File a Claim? The Statute of Limitations On Sexual Assault Cases
Stephanie E. Grana—September 20, 2019
There is a lot of confusion regarding legal rights following a sexual assault. A common misconception is that the only legal aspect of this type of situation involves criminal proceedings in which the attacker is arrested and charged. If you have been a victim of sexual assault your first call should be the police.
However, once your criminal matter is underway, a civil case can be pursued to bring compensation for the physical and emotional trauma experienced as a result of the heinous act. Understanding what rights you have to file a lawsuit against your attacker is extremely important to moving forward and pursuing the justice you deserve.
How Long Do You Have to File?
Part of the confusion involving timelines to file a case against your attacker comes from the fact that these types of matters are under personal injury laws.
While personal injury cases typically have a Statute of Limitations (SOL) of two years from the incident, the statute for sexual abuse can be less clear. Virginia law § 8.01-243 extends the SOL on sexual abuse of a minor for 20 years after the Cause of Action (COA) accrues. Virginia law § 8.01-249(6) says for abuse during infancy or incapacity, the COA accrues when the disability is removed (at 18 for minors) or potentially when the fact of injury is first communicated to the person by a therapist.
Determining whether a Statute of Limitations has passed for a survivor of child sexual abuse is often fact specific. Different factors play a role in this legal determination, including when the sexual abuse occurred, the age of the survivor at the time of the abuse, and whether the survivor has received medical treatment related to the sexual abuse. We strongly encourage all survivors of child sexual abuse to consult with an attorney, at Breit Cantor or elsewhere, as soon as possible to better understand their rights and whether they have a viable legal cause of action.
The following actions are considered indicators of sexual abuse according to Virginia law:
- Object sexual penetration
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual battery
- Sexual touching of intimate parts or material covering such intimate parts
- Forced sexual touching of the accused or another person
- And any other act with the intent to sexually molest, arouse, or gratify any person
Far too often, survivors are afraid to step forward because they fear their attacker or because they feel it is too late to take action. The statutes can be confusing but don’t let that keep you from speaking up. Talk to a trusted advisor and seek the counsel of a reputable attorney to do whatever is necessary to pursue compensation and justice against the responsible party.
We’ll Protect Your Rights Every Step of the Way
Our Virginia sexual assault attorneys work with our clients to help them understand what options they have and how they can protect their rights after an attack. At Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, we put your needs first. We’ll treat your case with the care and respect it deserves.
For more than 26 years, Stephanie Grana has fought for individuals and families in Virginia suffering from catastrophic injury and wrongful death as a top Richmond personal injury lawyer. She has recovered more than 45 verdicts and settlements of over $1 million.