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There is a 30-year statute of limitations on child sexual abuse in Texas. However, the clock doesn’t necessarily start ticking right away. Even if you think you might be outside the statute of limitations, you could still have options for legal recourse. You may wish to consult an attorney to discuss your situation and hear about your options, even if you aren’t quite sure yet whether you want to pursue justice in court.

At Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, our Dallas sexual assault victim lawyers understand that victims have sensitive concerns. It isn’t easy to step forward, even after a long time. Know that your information will be kept strictly confidential and that you will be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what you choose to do.

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What Is A Statute Of Limitations?

When you meet with a Dallas personal injury attorney, one of the issues they will consider is whether the statute of limitations has expired yet. In civil lawsuits, a statute of limitations is a deadline to file a claim. If the statute of limitations has expired, it cannot go forward.

However, this isn’t always as simple as determining how much time has passed. It’s true that in some types of personal injury cases, the clock begins ticking on the date of the incident. As an example, the deadline for a car accident would be two years from the date of the collision. In the case of child sexual abuse, however, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until the victim turns 18. This is why individuals may still be able to file a lawsuit, even if they thought it was too late.

How Do the Statutes of Limitations Work?

The statutes of limitations in Texas protect defendants from being punished for committing a wrongful act in the distant past. These statutes specify a timeframe within which you must file a lawsuit or potentially risk losing all legal recourse to that claim.

Why Statutes of Limitations Are in Place

Statutes of limitations exist in most civil cases. There are three primary reasons why:

  • To ensure that your lawsuit is adjudicated in a timely manner.
  • To maximize the quality of the evidence available. Many cases largely hinge on the testimony of some key witnesses. The sooner a case moves forward, the better chance each witness has of accurately recalling crucial facts.
  • It prevents people from filing lawsuits on stale claims for harassment.

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Exceptions and Extensions to Statutes of Limitations in Texas

For most personal injury claims in Texas, the statute of limitations is two years. However, in some cases, Texas law recognizes that the plaintiff may need more time to file a claim, so there are some exceptions and extensions to the statutes of limitations.

Some of the common exceptions and extensions include the following:

  • In product liability cases, the statute of limitations is either 15 years or the length of time that the retailer or manufacturer states in writing that the product will be safe, whichever is longer.
  • Personal injuries that result in the death of the victim. In these cases, the statute of limitations does not begin to toll until the victim dies–even when death occurs months after the accident.
  • If a construction defect has injured a person, the statute of limitations is ten years.
  • If the defendant is out of state, the statute of limitations is paused until they return to Texas or can be served, whichever comes first.
  • For child sexual abuse victims, the statute of limitations is 30 years and does not begin to toll until the victim turns 18. In other words, the victim can file a lawsuit until they turn 48.

What Happens When The Statute Of Limitations Is At Issue

In order for an extension or exception to the statutes of limitations to be granted, the plaintiff must plead facts that plausibly support all elements of the extension or exception in its complaint. If the defense asserts a statute of limitations claim in its answer, your attorney can file a motion to dismiss the defendant’s affirmative defense from the answer if the above has been satisfied.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Sexual Abuse Lawsuits?

The statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits in Texas has been modified. Previously, child victims of sexual assault had 15 years to file a claim dating from the their eighteenth birthday. Adult victims of sexual assault had five years. That deadline is calculated from the date of the attack.

However, in 2019, Texas legislators passed a new law that gave child victims more time to file. The new law allows for a 30-year statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. That deadline is calculated from the date of the victim’s 18th birthday. Initially, the bill exempted churches and nonprofits from the expanded statute of limitations. However, victims of sexual abuse protested this exception, and the House amended the bill to include those institutions.

Seeking Justice Before The Statute Of Limitations Expires

The extended 30-year statute of limitations gives victims significantly more time. Those who might have previously been barred from filing a claim may now have the opportunity to pursue justice in court. However, it’s still important to get in touch with our team of Dallas sexual abuse victim lawyers as soon as possible.

This is because it takes time to investigate these cases and gather evidence. This is particularly true of attacks that happened years ago. Over time, memories fade, and physical evidence degrades. It can take a while to put together a solid case, so it’s vital for victims to reach out for legal help sooner rather than later.

Similarly, victims should strive to preserve physical evidence after the attack, even if they aren’t sure whether they want to file a claim. It’s strongly recommended that victims seek medical attention. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) can complete a medical forensic exam. Victims have the right to have an advocate present to provide emotional support. They also have the right to provide consent– or withdraw it– for any portion of the exam. However, in the interest of pursuing justice, it’s recommended that they consent to the entire exam.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

At Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, we understand that it can be difficult to step forward. Our team of Dallas sexual abuse victim lawyers believes in fully educating individuals about their rights and options and letting them decide whether to move forward with a lawsuit.

We will never pressure you; it’s entirely your decision. If you’re ready to hold your abusers accountable for their actions, we’re here to help. Let us meet with you to discuss your rights and options during a free initial consultation. You can chat with us online or contact us to request a consult with a Dallas personal
injury attorney