Statute of Limitations CA AB-218

One of the most important laws to know if you are someone who wants to file a sexual abuse or sexual assault lawsuit is the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a time period when someone must file a lawsuit against another person. In 2019, California underwent a statute of limitations reform for sexual abuse cases when Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 (AB-218) into law. Here’s what you need to know about California’s current statute of limitations.

It Extended the Time Limit to File for Californians

Assembly Bill 218 gives sexual abuse survivors in California a longer amount of time to come forward with their stories and file civil lawsuits against perpetrators and institutions. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2020. The old state law gave child abuse survivors eight years from the time that they reached the age of majority (18 in California) – 26 years old – to file. The new law gives claimants 22 years from the age of majority, or 40 years old.

AB-218 states that a civil action for childhood sexual assault must be commenced either by the age of 40 or within five years of the date that the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an injury or illness was caused by childhood sexual assault. Whichever period expires later is the one that will apply. Previous law only gave plaintiffs three years from the date of discovery to file, not five. If you wish to file a claim after the age of 40, you must accompany your lawsuit with a certificate of merit signed by an attorney and a licensed mental health practitioner.

These are the deadlines for civil lawsuits involving acts of childhood sexual assault, in which the victim was under the age of 18 at the time. If you were over the age of 18 when you were sexually abused or assaulted, you must commence your civil lawsuit within 10 years of the last act of sexual abuse. Note, however, that there may be exceptions that apply to your specific case that change your time limit to file.

There Is a Three-Year Revival Window (Beginning January 2020)

AB-218 also gave sexual abuse victims who had previously surpassed their time limits a second chance at justice and compensation from their abusers. It created a three-year window of time, starting January 1, 2020, where claimants who were previously barred from filing by California’s law to seek recovery of damages from sexual abuse. If you did not come forward with your case because of an expired statute of limitations in the past, you may have the chance to file now.

The three-year window rule led to hundreds of civil lawsuits filed for the first time by survivors of Catholic Church sexual abuse in California. Around 600 victims of clergy sexual abuse came forward with claims that were previously barred under the existing statute of limitations. After the window closes in January 2023; however, survivors must obey the standard statute of limitations (age 40 or 5 years from discovery).

Consult With a California Sexual Abuse Attorney as Soon as Possible

It can take decades for a survivor of childhood sexual abuse or sexual violence to remember the trauma and understand its nature. It can take even longer for the survivor to find the courage to speak out against an abuser. This is why California and many other states have recently reformed their statutes of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits to make them longer.

If you now have the right to bring a lawsuit that was previously barred in California, please don’t hesitate to contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi for assistance with the claims process. We can carefully review your case, listen to your story and help you navigate related laws, including your time limit to file. Our lawyers can use more than 25 years of experience to represent your rights and interests. Call (855) 944-0710 today to find out if you have a lawsuit.