The biggest issue preventing victims of sexual abuse from bringing a civil claim against their abuser or other responsible parties is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations acts as a gatekeeper, preventing a victim access to the courts if the time period set by law has passed. New Jersey’s civil law regarding sexual abuse can be found at N.J. Stat. §2A:61B-1.
In New Jersey, the law allows a victim to bring a cause of action up to two (2) years after “reasonable discovery.”
Reasonable discovery can be defined in a few different ways. First, if you realize you have been sexually abused you have two (2) years from the date of abuse to bring a claim. In the alternative, the statute of limitations can be tolled for a period of time until the victim is aware the abuse took place. For example, it is common for a victim to suppress their memories of the abuse for years and then an event or something later in their life triggers the memory and for the first time, the victim realizes that they have suffered abuse. In these cases, the clock to bring a claim begins ticking when you realize that you have suffered sexual abuse and the victim has two (2) years within which to bring a claim.
Certain actions by a victim can also start the statute of limitations running such as talking to an attorney about the sexual abuse or writing a letter containing the allegations of abuse. Whether the victim has reasonable knowledge is the key that starts the clock for the statute of limitations in New Jersey.
It is important if you are a victim of sexual abuse to contact a sex abuse attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases as soon as possible. We offer free, confidential consultations to all victims of crime and abuse. 800.220.7600
Last reviewed and updated: May 10, 2017