Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Cases

This page will explain the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits for sexual abuse and sexual assault. Every state has its own separate law on the statute of limitations and the facts of each individual case are often very unique, so it is important to consult with an attorney to evaluate how the statute of limitations applies to your case.

If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault, contact the sex abuse lawyers at Miller & Zois for a free, confidential evaluation of your case.

Child Sex Abuse Statute of Limitation State Grades 

What is the Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse Lawsuits?

A statute of limitations is basically a legal deadline that limits how long a potential plaintiff can wait before filing a civil lawsuit. The underlying goal of all statutes of limitation is to ensure that civil lawsuits are litigated within a reasonable time after the events occur, so that the evidence and potential witnesses to the event are still around and available.

If an very long period of time has passed since the events occurred, locating witnesses and collecting other relevant evidence for the case becomes exceedingly difficult. This can leave both the plaintiff and the defendant in a difficult situation in terms of their ability to prove or disprove the allegations.

This is why every state has statutes of limitations that apply to all types of civil lawsuits, including sex abuse lawsuits. In most states, sex abuse lawsuits are covered by the same general statute of limitations that applies to all personal injury cases. The length of the statute of limitations varies from state to state, but in most states the limitation period is about 2-3 years from when the claim arises.

How the Statute of Limitations Impacts Your Case

The applicable statute of limitations can determine whether you are eligible to bring a sex abuse lawsuit or not. If the statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuits in your state has already expired, then you will be legally barred from filing your lawsuit. This is why knowing and understanding the statute of limitations in your case is extremely important.

Civil vs. Criminal Statute of Limitations

Most acts of sexual abuse and sexual assault are criminal and can be subject to criminal prosecution. Victims of sexual abuse and assault can also file civil lawsuits against both the perpetrator and any third parties such as churches, schools, etc. that negligently allowed the abuse to occur.

The state has the authority to bring criminal charges and prosecute someone for sexual abuse. The victim is the one who decides whether to bring a civil lawsuit. One thing that is important to understand is that criminal charges for sexual abuse and civil lawsuits for sex abuse are subject to different statutes of limitation. The statute of limitations for criminal prosecution is usually much longer than the statute of limitations for civil claims.

Special Statutes of Limitation for Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Over the last decade, child sexual abuse by clergy (particularly within the catholic church) has generated a lot of public attention. This attention has generated significant political pressure to hold churches and other institutions liable, even when the abuse occurred decades ago.

In response, a growing number of states have amended their laws to enable victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring civil lawsuits. These states have either lifted or significantly extended their existing statutes of limitation to allow sex abuse lawsuits even when the abuse occurred decades earlier.

These new rules vary from state to state. Some states enacted “lookback windows,” which are basically 1 or 2 years periods during which childhood sex abuse victims would be allowed to sue no matter how many years had passed. Other states simply extended the limitations period for abuse claims. Below is a summary of the new laws passed in each of these states:

States with Lookback Windows for Clergy Sex Abuse Claims



19-month lookback window from June 2019 to January 2021 (all claims allowed)

After lookback, limitations period on child sex abuse claims extended to when victim reaches age 30

California 3-year unlimited lookback window from January 2020 to January 2023

After lookback window closes, claims allowed until victim turns 40-years-old

Treble damages are permitted if plaintiff can prove institutional cover-up by church

District of Columbia 2-year lookback window from May 2019 to May 2021 (all claims allowed)

After lookback, claims allowed until victim reaches age 40



Unlimited lookback window opened in 2018 and closed April 2020 (this was the state’s second lookback window period)
Montana 1-year lookback window ended May 2020

Limitations period on child sex abuse claims now extended until victim turns 27

New Jersey Unlimited 2-year lookback window from December 2019 to December 2021

After lookback, child sex abuse claims allowed until victim is age 50

New York 1-year lookback window ended August 14, 2020

Extended SOL to allow child sexual abuse claims to be filed until the victim reaches age 55

North Carolina 2-year lookback window from January 2020 to January 2022

After lookback period, claims for sex abuse allowed until victim turns 28

States That Extended the Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The states below did not create lookback windows but amended their existing statutes of limitation to allow cases based on child sexual abuse to be filed many years later in adulthood.



Extended limit on sex abuse claims from age 21 to age 25


Connecticut Age limit on sexual abuse claims increased from 48 to 51 as of June 2019
Michigan Increased age limitation on sex abuse claims from 19 to 28
Pennsylvania Age limitation on sex abuse lawsuits raised to 55 (law not retroactive so future claims only)
Rhode Island Age limit for abuse claims raised to 53 for limited time period (2019)
Tennessee Age limitation on sex abuse claims increased from 19 to 33
Texas Limitation on sex abuse claims raised from age 33 to age 48

States That Have Completely Eliminated the Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits

3 States have gone so far as to completely remove all statute of limitation time limits on child sex abuse civil lawsuits.

Maine Maine was the second State to eliminate time limits for filing civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse. Maine Sex Abuse Lawsuits
Maryland The Maryland Child Victims Act of 2023 removed the statute of limitations on all child sex abuse civil lawsuits, making Maryland the largest state to do so. Maryland Sex Abuse Lawsuits
Vermont In 2020, Vermont became the first state to eliminate its statute of limitations on civil lawsuits involving childhood sexual abuse. Vermont Sex Abuse Lawsuits

 Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Civil Lawsuits in All States

The chart below lists the current statute of limitations of civil sex abuse claims in all 50 states.

Alabama Ala. Code § 6-2-38 2-Years
Alaska Alaska Stat. § 09-10-065 3 Years
Arizona A.R.S. § 12- 542(1) 2 Years (but no limit for “violent” sexual abuse)
Arkansas Ark. Code § 16-56-130(a) 3 Years
California Ca. Civ. Proc. Code § 340.16 10 years
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401 3 Years
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577e 2 Years – but no limit if abuser convicted
Delaware Del. Code tit. 10, § 8119 2 Years
District of Columbia D.C. Code § 12-301(11) Victims have until their 40th birthday
Florida Fla. Stat. § 95.11(7), (9) 25th birthday, 4 years after the person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within 4 years from the time of discovery, whichever occurs later
Georgia O.C.G.A. § 9-3- 33.1(b) 2 Years
Hawaii Haw. Rev. Stat. §657-7

Haw. Rev. Stat. § §657-1.8

2 Years
Idaho Idaho Code § 6-1704(1) 2 Years
Illinois Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 735, § 13–202, § 13—202.2(b) 2 years – but no limit if the civil suit is based on a Class X felony
Indiana Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4(1) 2 Years
Iowa Iowa Code §669.13, §614.8A 2 Years
Kansas Kan. Stat. § 60-523

K.S.A. § 60-513(a)(4) and (5)

2 Years
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.249, §413.140(1)(a) 1 Year
Louisiana Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2800.9(A),

Civ. Code §3492

1 Year
Maine Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C, Maine Civil Statute of Limitations 2 Years
Maryland Md. Cts. and Jud. Proc. § 5-117 3 Years
Massachusetts General Laws of Massachusetts Part III, Title V, 260-4C, 3 Years
Michigan MCL 600.5805 10 years
Minnesota Minn. Stat. § 541.073 6 Years
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. §15-1-49, § 15-1-59 3 Years
Missouri Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.046, 5 Years
Montana Mont. Code § §27-2-204(1),

Mont. Code Ann. 27-2-216

3 Years
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-207 4 Years
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 11.215, Nevada Civil Statute of Limitations 2 Years
New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. § 508:4-9
New Jersey N.J. Stat. § 2A:61B-1 7 Years
New Mexico N.M. Code § 37-1-30 3 Years
New York N.Y. CVP 213-C; 20 Years
North Carolina N.C.G.S. § 1-52(16) 3 Years
North Dakota N.C.G.S. § 1-52(16) 2 Years
Ohio ORC Ann. § 2305.111(c) 2 Years
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 95 2 Years
Oregon ORS § 124.005 2 Years
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Code 42 Pa. CSA 5533(b)(2), 2 Years
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws § 9- 1-51 3 Years
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-555 3 Years
South Dakota S.D. Codified Laws § 26-10-25, 3 years
Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104, 28-1-106 1 Year
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Title 2B 2-5 years
Utah Utah Code Ann. § 78B-2-308, 4 Years
Vermont 12 V.S.A. § 522 NO LIMIT
Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-243 2 Years
Washington Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.340 3 Years
West Virginia W.Va. Code § 55-2-15 2 years
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. § 893.587, 2 Years
Wyoming Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-105 4 years


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