When is it too Late for a Person to Sue Someone for Child Sex Abuse?

You Could Be Sued by Someone for Child Sex Abuse Years After the Supposed Abuse.

There is a time limit for filing in court a civil claim for compensation, and different kinds of claims have different limits. Washington State permits a suit to be filed at any time within three years of the time the abused person discovers that his or her injuries were caused by the abuse.

Imagine a 65-year-old woman who was molested when she was six. She has always known she was molested. Imagine also that she has been an alcoholic since she was twenty, and she has also always known that. But imagine that only at age 65 does she realize, in some way, that her molestation caused her to become an alcoholic. The law allows her three years from that realization to file suit.

When a person who reports having been sexually abused many years earlier approaches an attorney to make a claim, the attorney may send the person to a psychotherapist. Often the psychotherapist diagnoses “post-traumatic stress disorder secondary to childhood sexual abuse.” The attorney can then assert that only with that diagnosis did the abused person understand how they had been affected—so only with that diagnosis does the three years to file suit begin to run.