New Law Eliminates Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits

In California, the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases has been eliminated beginning in 2024. The statute of limitations sets a limit by which point a plaintiff must file a civil claim if they intend to do so. This means that, before the change, victims of child sex abuse needed to come forward within a certain window of time if they wanted to sue a school, organization, church, or other institution that may have been liable for what happened to them.

Prior to 2019, victims of abuse had up to the age of 26 to file a lawsuit. In 2019, a bill was signed that pushed that deadline back to the age of 40. It also opened up a three-year period that allowed the filing of a lawsuit regardless of when the sexual abuse occurred.

Why Is a Longer Statute of Limitations Necessary?

The three-year lookback period demonstrated the need to eliminate the statute of limitations in child sex abuse claims. It ushered in a wave of lawsuits against churches, schools, and other institutions. It was so significant that the Archdiocese of San Francisco would have to file for bankruptcy because they didn’t have the money to adjudicate that many lawsuits.

Schools in California were required to pay out hundreds of millions to those who had suffered abuse. As a result, insurance rates for these schools have skyrocketed.

This period of time showed just how many victims of child sex abuse weren’t ready to come forward within the time frame of the statute of limitations. Even the newer limitation of 40 was not long enough. In many cases, these victims don’t come forward until they are over 50.

The new bill, which takes effect in 2024, will eliminate the statute of limitations altogether. However, it will only apply to abuses that occur in 2024 or later.

The bill is similar to a federal bill passed in 2022 that eliminated the statute of limitations on any federal civil child sex abuse lawsuits. Previously, they would need to be filed by the time the victim turned 28. While not every case is heard by federal courts since they have the ability to decide what cases they hear, they tend to hear many child sex abuse claims. Therefore, those who lack recourse under California’s current laws may still find it available to them in the federal courts.


Q: How Are Institutions at Fault for Child Sexual Abuse?

A: Institutions that are responsible for watching children are also responsible for taking reasonable measures and precautions to protect those children. Failing to take those reasonable measures may mean they are liable for something like child sexual abuse.

Q: What Are Some Ways Institutions Are Negligent in Child Sexual Abuse Cases?

A: There are a variety of things that institutions can and should be doing to protect children, and a failure to do so could be considered negligence. One of these things is performing sufficient background checks and due diligence in regard to who they are hiring and who will be around the children. It’s also important that proper supervision be in place at all times.

Proactive policies are also critical. That’s why, in many cases, it’s important for institutions to have educational programs in place that can ensure everyone involved understands what is and isn’t appropriate and the steps they need to take if they notice anything inappropriate. Additionally, it’s critical that these institutions take any reported behavior seriously.

Q: How Can Victims of Child Sex Abuse Benefit From Filing a Lawsuit?

A: There are two important benefits to filing a lawsuit against an institution responsible for a case of child sex abuse. One is the financial compensation that plaintiffs may be granted. The money can’t erase the abuse, but it may provide victims with the space to focus on healing and moving forward.

Secondly, the lawsuit may provide societal benefits as well. As institutions learn what points of failure allow abuse to occur, they have the opportunity to correct them, even if their only motivation is to avoid having to pay out another claim. If it can inspire change that prevents future abuse, many who file a civil claim may feel a level of satisfaction.

Seek Justice for Child Sex Abuse With the Help of a Compassionate Lawyer

At the DeMarco Law Firm, we understand how hard it is to come forward in cases of child sexual abuse. We realize that many people aren’t ready to come forward. For many victims, it’s not worth it to have to relive the abuse to the extent necessary for a claim. Thankfully, the new bills in California and at the federal level mean future victims will have as much time as they need to process the situation before coming forward.

For those who are ready to file a claim, it’s critical that you work with the right legal team. We’ve chosen to make child sexual abuse cases the focus of our practice because we understand both the importance of seeking justice and the difficulty of coming forward. We believe these cases require a legal team that understands the law and the emotional and mental needs of traumatized clients.

It’s our aim to make the process of filing a claim as easy as possible. California allows you to file a claim without making your name public, and we can help you take advantage of this protection. We treat our clients with the utmost dignity, respect, and sensitivity throughout the process.

While we can aggressively represent you and argue on your behalf in court, we won’t make the process of preparing for the trial unnecessarily burdensome. We’ll need sufficient information to make the case, but we won’t push you beyond what you are able and comfortable with sharing.
If you’ve been a victim of child sex abuse and are ready to seek civil justice, contact us today.