Seattle Child Sex Abuse Lawyer
When a child is sexually abused, they often repress the trauma of what happened for years–and in some cases decades–before they are able to publicly discuss what happened to them. We have all seen cases in the news of survivors stepping forward to confront their abusers long after the fact. Indeed, even when the abuse occurred long ago, the survivor may continue to experience negative effects on their own life today as a result of what took place in the past.
Washington law makes it possible for survivors of abuse to take legal action even when the underlying abuse occurred years or decades earlier. A qualified Seattle child sex abuse lawyer can review your case and advise you of your legal rights in this area. At the Emerald Law Group, we represent individuals who have suffered or continue to suffer from childhood sex abuse. We understand that financial compensation alone cannot heal such deep emotional and physical trauma, but we also know that holding your abuser accountable can be the first step towards rebuilding your life.
Washington Has a Flexible Statute of Limitations in Child Sex Abuse Cases
In any civil lawsuit, such as a personal injury claim, there is a statute of limitations–i.e., a deadline for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit. In most personal injury cases, including most claims arising from allegations of sexual abuse, this limitations period is three years. But there are special rules governing childhood sexual abuse claims.
Specifically, Washington law provides that any civil lawsuit based on an injury “suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse” must be brought within three years of the alleged act or three years from the time that the victim “discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition” or that they “discovered that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought.”
In simpler terms, the three-year deadline is liberally interpreted to mean three years from when the plaintiff realizes–or should have reasonably discovered–they were a victim of childhood abuse. This means that if the memories of abuse were repressed for years or decades, the three-year clock will not start to run until the victim recognizes what happened. Furthermore, the limitations period in all childhood sexual abuse cases does not start to run until a person turns 18.
Washington law means it is possible to hold an abuser accountable decades after the fact. For example, in a landmark 2005 case, the Washington Court of Appeals held that a victim could sue a family member who sexually abused them as a child back in the 1950s. So even if your abuse occurred long ago, it may still be possible to bring a civil lawsuit.
Contact Emerald Law Today
The rules governing childhood sex abuse are quite complicated. And even beyond the statute of limitations, victims often face an uphill battle proving abuse in court. That is why it is essential to work with a skilled, compassionate Seattle child sex abuse lawyer who will zealously represent your interests. Contact the Emerald Law Group today to schedule an initial consultation.