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What is the deadline to file a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse in Pennsylvania?

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Sexual violence, which includes the abuse of children, takes a devastating toll on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Americans each year. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) estimates that by the time they turn 18 years old, one out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually abused.

Survivors often suffer from a litany of long-term physical and emotional consequences, including fear, anxiety and PTSD. Treatments can be lengthy and costly, inflicting financial hardships on survivors, as some are unable to hold down a job as an adult. However, there are steps they can take to recover compensation here in Pennsylvania.

Alarming statistics highlight the problem

Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual activity, where abusers use force, make threats or take advantage of victims who are unable to give their consent. NSVRC statistics outline the horrendous impact:

  • 30% of women were sexually assaulted between the ages of 11 and 17
  • 3% of women and 27.8% of men were under 10 years old when they were first abused
  • More than one-third of all women reporting rape before age 18 also experienced rape as an adult
  • Males are responsible for 96% of all reported child sexual abuse charges, while 76.8% are adults
  • 34% of perpetrators are family members
  • Only 12% of child sexual abuse incidents are reported

State laws mandate reporting sexual abuse

Under Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law, several kinds of professionals are considered mandated reporters who are required to report information of suspected sexual abuse, including those perpetrated by medical professionals, law enforcement, teachers and other school staff members, clergy and a host of other individuals. Anyone who suspects abuse can call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-932-0313, and they may remain anonymous.

Statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits

In Pennsylvania, adults may bring lawsuits within two years of when they were abused. Children who are sexually abused may bring claims until they turn 30. Efforts to add a window allowing otherwise time-barred claims to be filed have so far been unsuccessful in the state legislature.

Taking action against abusers

Survivors, or their guardians, may be able to file lawsuits against perpetrators to seek compensation for the physical, emotional and financial effects they suffer. Choosing a lawyer who is experienced in sexual abuse cases is key to a favorable result. You should be able to identify the abuser, the place where the abuse happened and the approximate time it took place. In some cases, you can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator’s employer. For more specific questions regarding civil actions for sexual abuse, call (toll-free) 877-341-2595.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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