How Long Do I Have to Sue for Sexual Assault?

How Long Do I Have to Sue for Sexual Assault?

“How much time do I have to sue for sexual assault” is a question we are frequently asked. And, unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer.

The period in which one may commence a lawsuit for sexual abuse or sexual assault is known as a statute of limitations. These laws vary greatly state by state. Some states like Kentucky and Alabama have an extremely short period of time in which to sue (1 year). Other states are more victim-friendly and have no limits on lawsuits.

Yet another variable is when the assault took place. If you were a minor at the time of the assault, most states extend the time period to sue until after your 18th or 21st birthday.

Many states have also enacted repressed memory statutes that extend the time in which you can sue the offender. These states go by the day you discovered you were the victim of a sexual assault.

The type of assault that took place and whether or not the offender is in prison may also impact the calculation. For example, some states extend the time period for sexual assaults where the underlying assault is a felony. Some states have no time limits for suing for forcible rape (a felony) but may limit the period in which to sue for misdemeanor sexual contact.

If this isn’t already confusing, a few states extend the time period if the offender and victim are considered domestic or family partners or if the victim is still living with the abuser.

Finally, who you are suing can impact the time periods. Some states give victims a longer period to sue the offender but shorter time periods to sue third parties such as schools, employers or property owners.

The chart below is meant to be a guide and is offered for general information. If you have questions, we welcome the opportunity to speak with you.

We understand the difficulties in coming forward and seeking justice. Our consultations are always free and without any pressure. We can help you determine whether or not you have a case and whether or not you should bring that case. To learn more, our contact information appears at the bottom of this post.

Once again, this chart is meant only as a general guide. In recent years, there has been a nationwide push to extend the time periods in which to sue for sexual assault. This is especially true for assaults involving kids and young adults under the age of 18 or 21. This means there are frequent changes to the statutes of limitation. (Within the last three months at least two states have made changes to their statute of limitations for sexual assault claims.)

How long do you have to sue for sexual assault? We put together this chart for you. In general, look to the state where the assault took place.

Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations

State Sexual Assault/Rape CIVIL Statute of Limitations Time Limit Tolling/Extension in Child Sex Abuse Case
Alabama Ala. Code § 6-2-38 Two years from the date of incident Yes. The statute of limitations is “tolled” until the victim reaches age 19. Alabama’s legislature and courts have steadfastly refused to adopt a discovery or repressed memory rule.
Alaska Alaska Stat. § 09-10-065 AS § 09.10.140. Unlimited time period for:
  • Felony sexual abuse of a minor
  • Felony sexual assault
  • Unlawful sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Felony sex trafficking
  • Felony human trafficking
Three years from the date of incident for:
  • Misdemeanor sexual abuse of a minor
  • Misdemeanor sexual assault
  • Incest
  • Felony indecent exposure
Yes, for felonies. Alaska also has a delayed discovery statute for misdemeanor sexual assault crimes that extends the time period for three years after the victim reaches majority. The time period is also extended until the victim discovered or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered that the act caused the injury or condition.

 

Arizona A.R.S. § 12- 542(1) Two years from the date of incident Yes. Two years after reaching the age of 18 or if the victim is of “unsound mind,” two years after the removal of the disability. A.R.S. § 12- 502
Arkansas Ark. Code § 16-56-130(a) Three years from the date of incident Yes. Three years from the time of discovery if the person was under 18 years of age at the time of sexual abuse. 
California Ca. Civ. Proc. Code § 335.1 Two years from the date of the incident Yes. [Law Amended January 2, 2020]  Ca. Civ. Proc. Code § 340.1. Must be filed within twenty - two years after the date the person reaches the age of 18 or within five years after the date the person discovers the causal connection of the injury, whichever period expires later. Another section of the new law permits the court to award triple damages if the defendant attempts to cover up the assault. (There are limitations in this section.)
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. § §13-80-102 (a) Two years from the date of incident Yes, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-80-103.7, Can be filed within six years of reaching age 18 or six years of the removal of a ‘disability.’ Expansive definition of disability includes nursing home residents and victims while in a ‘special relationship’ such as parent, teacher, physician or religious leader.
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577, 52-577e General limitation is three years but no time limit for civil actions for sexual assault if the perpetrator has been criminally convicted of the underlying offense YesConn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577dFor sexual abuse, exploitation or assault to a minor, no later than 30 years from the date the person attains the age of majority.
Delaware Del. Code tit. 10, § 8119 Two years from the date of incident Yes, Del. Code tit. 10 § 8145No time limit for child sex abuse claims.
District of Columbia D.C. Code § 12-301(11) One or three years from the incident (check the statute) Yes, the later of seven years of the minor’s 18th birthday or three years from when the victim knew or should have known of the incident.
Florida Fla. Stat. § 95.11(7), (9) The general statute of limitations is four years; however, there are exceptions for abuse claims: seven years after the age of majority, within four years after the person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within four years from the time of discovery, whichever occurs later. Yes. No time limit for sexual battery offenses on victims age 15 and under.
Georgia O.C.G.A. § 9-3- 33.1(b) Two years from the date of incident Yes. For a wide range of sexual assaults and related crimes against minors, within five years of the date the person attains the age of majority. There are special rules for elderly victims (over the age of 65).
Hawaii HRS § 657-7§ 657-13, § 657-21.5, § 657-23 Two years from the date of the incident Yes. Within two years of reaching age 18. The statute is tolled during the pendency of any related criminal charges against the offender. If the offender is convicted of a felony, the statute for a civil action against the offender is tolled while the offender is serving a sentence or until completion of parole or probation.
Idaho Idaho Code § 6-1704(1), § 5-248 Two years from the date of incident Yes. For certain sex offenses against children, suit may be brought within five years of the victim reaching age 18. Idaho law also extends the time to file suit while an offender is serving a related prison sentence.
Illinois Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 735, § 13--202§ 13—202.2(b) and (f) Two years from the date of incident unless the lawsuit is based on aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault or criminal sexual assault in which case such lawsuit can be brought at any time. Yes. Actions for damages based on childhood sexual abuse may be commenced at any time
Indiana Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4(1) Within two years from the date of the incident Yes. For cases resulting from childhood sex abuse, the suit must be filed must be within seven years from the date of incident or within four years from when the minor is no longer a dependent of the person alleged perpetrator. (This is one of the states where the “tolling” provision is not calculated from the age of majority.)
Iowa Iowa Code §669.13§614.8A, §614.8 Two years from the date of the incident Yes. Suit must be filed within four years of the date of discovery or one year after reaching the age of 18. Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist or school employee must be brought within five years of the date the person was last treated by the counselor or therapist; or within five years of the date the victim was last enrolled or attended the school.
Kansas Kan. Stat. § 60-523, §60-513 For personal injuries, two years from the date of incident. For assaults, one year from the date of the incident Yes, victims of childhood sex abuse must file any lawsuits within three years from the age of 18, or three years from the date of discovery or the date they should have reasonably discovered the abuse. 
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. §413.249§413.140(1)(a) One year from the date of incident Yes. Five years of the commission of the act or the last of a series of acts by the same perpetrator or five years of the discovery date or five years after the victim attains the age 18.
Louisiana Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2800.9(A)Civ. Code §3492 One year from the date of incident Yes, 10 years from the day the minor reaches age 18. 
Maine Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14, § 752-C, Six years from the date of incident Yes. No time limits.
Maryland Md. Cts. and Jud. Proc. § 5-117, Maryland Civil Statute of Limitations Three years from the date of incident Yes. For sexual abuse of minor claims, a suit must be brought within twenty years of the victim turning 18, however claims against third parties may be limited to before the victim reaching age 25.
Massachusetts General Laws of Massachusetts Part III, Title V, 260-4C, Ch. 260 §4  Two years for assault from date of incident or five years if the assault involved a dating relationship, spouse, or family member within the same residence. The general statute for personal injury is three years. Yes. Suit must be filed within 35 years of reaching the age 18 or within 7 years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered the abuse.
Michigan MCL 600.5805, §600.5851 Two years from the date of incident. Yes. One year after reaching age 18.
Minnesota Minn. Stat. § 541.073 Six years of the time the victim knew or had reason to know of the sexual abuse.  Yes. Suit must be filed within 5 years of reaching age 18.
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. §15-1-49§ 15-1-59, §15-1-35 The general statute of limitations for personal injury is three years from the date of incident; however there is a second statute limiting actions for assault to one year. Yes. One or three years of reaching age 18.
Missouri Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.046Missouri Civil Statute of Limitations, §516.140 Five years from the date of incident for personal injury however a two-year limit applies to assaults. Yes. For childhood sexual abuse, lawsuits must be filed within 10 years of the victim reaching age 21 or within three years of the date of discovery, whichever occurs later.
Montana Mont. Code § 27-2-216(a), Montana Civil Statute of Limitations, §27-2-401 Three years from the date of incident for personal injury however a two year limit applies to assaults Yes. Three years after the act of childhood sexual abuse; or not later than three years after the person discovers the abuse. It appears that Montana extends the time to file a lawsuit while a victim is a minor.
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-208 Four years from the date of incident Yes. Generally, victims of child sex abuse can file a lawsuit within four years of reaching age 21.
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 11.215Nevada Civil Statute of Limitations Two years from the date of the incident Yes. Lawsuits for child sex abuse must be filed within 20 years after the person either reaches 18 years of age or discovers/ reasonably should have discovered the abuse.
New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. § 508:4-9New Hampshire Civil Statute of Limitations Three years from date of incident Yes. For certain sexual assault claims involving minors, a lawsuit must be filed within 12 years of the person’s 18th birthday, or 3 years of the time of discovery, whichever is later.
New Jersey N.J. Stat. § 2A:61B-1, §2A:14-2, §2A:14-21 Two years from date of incident Yes. The statute of limitation is tolled until the victim reaches age 18. Also, in child sex abuse cases, the action can be extended to two years from the date the victim “reasonably discovers” the abuse.
New Mexico N.M. Code § 37-1-30 Three years from date of incident Yes. A lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse must be brought before the victim reaches age 24 or three years from the discovery, whichever occurs first.
New York New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 213-c, N.Y.C.P.L.R. 213-B, N.Y.C.P.L.R. 214 & 215, N.Y.C.P.L.R 208 The general rule for personal injuries is three years. For assaults, within one year. If the underlying behavior constitutes rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree, or course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree, a civil lawsuit must be brought within five years.  Yes. Extended to three years after the victim reaches the age of majority.
North Carolina N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52, §1-17 Three years from the date of incident Yes. Three years of reaching age 18.
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-18, 25 and 25.1 Two years from the date of incident Yes. Lawsuits may be filed within a year of reaching age 18. For childhood sexual abuse, lawsuits must be commenced within ten years of when the victim knew or reasonably should have known of the abuse.
Ohio ORC Ann. § 2305.111(c) Two years from the date of incident Yes. For childhood sexual abuse cases (victims under the age of 18 or under the age of 21 if there is also developmental disability or physical impairment), suit must be commenced within 12 years from the date of the minor’s 18th birthday.
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95 Two years from the date of incident for personal injury, however, a one-year limitation may apply to assaults Yes. Two years from when the victim reaches age 18 or until five years after the offender is released from jail, whichever is later.
Oregon O.R.S. §12.117 Two years from the date of incident Yes, A civil lawsuit for child abuse must be commenced before the victim reaches age 40 years or not more than five years from the date the person discovers the abuse, whichever period is longer.
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Code 42 Pa. CSA 5533(b)(2), Pennsylvania Civil Statute of Limitations Two years from the date of incident Yes. Twelve years from the date of a victim reaches age 18.
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws § 9- 1-51 and §9-1-14 Three years from the date of incident Yes. For case of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child, thirty-five years of the alleged act or within seven years of the time of discovery, whichever occurs later.
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-555, §15-3-530 Three years from the date of incident Yes. The later of six years after the person reaches 21 years old or three years from the time the victim realizes that their injuries are caused by child sexual abuse or incest
South Dakota S.D. Codified Laws § 26-10-25§15-2-22 Two or three years from the date of incident (check statute). Yes, one year after reaching age 18 OR within three years of the alleged act or discovery.
Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104, 28-1-106 One year of the date of incident Yes. One year after reaching age 18. 
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §16.045 General personal injury statute is two years of the incident, but most civil claims for sexual assault and sexual abuse can be brought within 5 or 30 years of the incident. Five years:
  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Compelling prostitution
  • Human trafficking
30 years:
  • Sexual assault (child)
  • Aggravated sexual assault (child)
  • Continuous sexual abuse of young child or children
  • Indecency with a child
  • Compelling prostitution (child)
  • Human trafficking (child)
Yes, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim reaches age 18. Civ. Prac. & Rem. §16.001
Utah Utah Code Ann. § 78B-2-308 Four years from the date of incident Yes, generally no time limits. (Shorter limits for actions against non-perpetrators).
Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 522, § 512 Typically three years from the date of incident Yes. In cases of childhood sexual abuse, six years of the act, or six years of the time of discovery.
Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-243, §8.01-229 Two years from the date of incident Yes. Generally, two years from when the victim reaches age 18. For sexual abuse during infancy or disability, 20 years after the incident.
Washington Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.340, § 4.16.080, § 4.16.100 General statute of limitations for personal injury is three years but two years for assault. (Check statute) Yes. For childhood sexual abuse, the later of three years after the victim reaches age 18 or of discovery of the act.
West Virginia W.Va. Code § 55-2-15 Two years from the date of the incident Yes. Two years from the date the victim reaches the age 18 or discovers the offense.
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. § 893.587Wisconsin Civil Statute of Limitations Two years from the date of the incident Yes. Must be filed before the victim’s 35th birthday.
Wyoming Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-105 Four years from the date of the incident Yes. For sexual assault against a minor, the later of eight years after victim reaches age 18 or three years after the time of discovery.

Note: We remind readers that this chart is presented for general information only. Laws – and the courts’ interpretations of those laws – change frequently. This is especially true with the statutes of limitations (time periods to sue) for sexual assault cases. There has been a welcome push in recent years to extend the time period to sue for sexual assaults and sexual abuse of minors.

We believe that this chart was accurate when written; however nothing is a substitute for a consultation with a lawyer.

Are You the Victim of a Sexual Assault or Rape?

Sexual assault usually causes devastating effects on the victim and the victim’s family. Police, prosecutors, and the criminal courts can often bring closure to the victims and punish the offenders who commit these heinous crimes. While criminal courts can sometimes order restitution, collecting from someone in prison is almost impossible.

Victims are generally entitled to monetary compensation for physical, mental, and emotional damages as well as lost wages and medical / counseling expenses. In many instances, punitive damages may also be available. Fortunately, the employer of the offender or owner of the premises where the assault took place can often be held responsible for these damages.

Our work doesn’t stop with the offender. We sue churches (clergy abuse), schools and scouting organizations (abuse by teachers, counselors, bus drivers or coaches), landlords or property owners where the assault took place (unsafe premises), rideshare companies (assaults by Lyft and Uber drivers) and employers (failure to screen and supervise employees).

The Best Lawyer for Sexual Assault Cases

Helping the victim of sexual assault requires more than a personal injury lawyer. Unlike a car accident where physical injuries are often obvious, the injuries in sexual abuse cases are often emotional and psychological and can linger for years. You can’t see those injuries on an x-ray, but they are just as real.

To get the maximum compensation for your injuries, you need lawyers who are both aggressive and experienced. Brian Mahany and his handpicked team have a long history of pursuing sex offenders. Brian is a former police officer, prosecutor, and board member of the Family Violence Project. He is also a former volunteer with the Sexual Assault Crisis and Assault Center.

We work hard to ensure victims are heard. 

If you are the victim of sexual abuse of a minor, sexual assault, rape, incest or sexual molestation, call us. Brian and his network can be reached online, by email [hidden email] or by phone at 877.858.8018. All inquiries are kept strictly confidential. We also invite you to visit our sexual assault victim information page for more information.

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Related topics: sexual assault (21) | statute of limitations (3)


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