A Brief Explanation of the Statute of Limitations for Civil Sex Assault-Abuse Cases in PA and NJ
Men and women alike, who’ve been victims of sexual assault are often plagued with anxiety and depression after the incident. Oftentimes, seeking justice in the civil courts may be the last thing on their minds. However, when they are finally ready to seek legal advice, it is oftentimes too late. Under both Pennsylvania and New Jersey tort or injury laws, adults who have been victims of sexual assault have 2 years from the date of the incidents to file civil lawsuits. This 2 year deadline is a strict one. There are however, very limited exceptions, such as mental or physical incapacity, i.e., coma or severe mental illness.
Minors get different statutory deadlines, which vary depending on the circumstances. Minors who have been sexually abused or assaulted in Pennsylvania have until they turn 30 to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator (and others who negligently allowed the assaults/abuse to occur). In New Jersey, the Child Sex Abuse Act does not set a specific deadline per se. Rather, the law in NJ requires a minor to bring a civil sex abuse lawsuit within 2 years of reasonably discovering that an injury was caused by sexual abuse. **If you have a question about the statute of limitations in your sexual assault case, please contact one of our civil sex abuse lawyers immediately.
Why You Should Act Quickly
By the time a sex abuse or sex assault victim is ready to move forward and seek justice through the civil courts, much time has passed. As each month or year goes by, it often becomes harder and harder to pursue a case. This is because evidence, including physical evidence, often becomes harder to locate over time. In addition, as time goes by, memories fade and witnesses can become difficult to locate.
Acting Quickly Aids Criminal Investigation
Time is of the essence when it comes to properly investigating a criminal sex abuse or assault case. Physical evidence disappears, and quickly. For instance, in a rape case, it will be important to preserve and test the victim’s clothing worn on the night of the assault. A rape victim who chooses not to pursue criminal charges immediately after the attack may inadvertently hinder the case by discarding the clothing. Therefore, it is important to act quickly to aid the criminal investigation.
Acting Quickly Prevents the Case from Being Filed Too Late (Statute of Limitations)
Time is also of the essence when it comes to filing a civil lawsuit. As noted above, Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws only give an adult who is the victim of sexual assault 2 years from the date of the assault to file a civil lawsuit. While two years may seem like a long time, 2 years go by quickly from a litigation standpoint. Determining who all of the responsible parties (defendants) are, finding/analyzing evidence and preparing the case to be filed can take several months. Therefore, it is crucial for victims of sexual abuse and assault to seek help from a lawyer early on.
Sex Assault-Abuse Victims Lawyer in PA & NJ
Brian Kent is a civil sex assault and abuse lawyer who handles cases nationwide. Mr. Kent is also licensed in PA, NJ and IL. Please call the firm at 800.220.7600 and ask for a free consultation.
DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.