Victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault and battery often choose not to report their attacks immediately for a variety of personal reasons. Compassionate sexual abuse attorneys will understand how victims might feel this way and are available to help them seek compensation and feel back in control of their own lives.
However, there are a few essential legal points for potential plaintiffs in a sexual assault case to understand, one of them being the statute of limitations in a West Palm Beach sexual abuse case. In short, if you do not file a case within a certain period of time, you may permanently lose the right to seek damages for that attack.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
According to Florida Statutes §95.11(3), the statute of limitations for West Palm Beach sexual abuse cases is four years from the date of the incident. If the sexual abuse was ongoing, the deadline is accordingly four years from the date of the last incident. If a potential plaintiff does not file or have an attorney file their civil claim within the allotted four years, their case may be time-barred, in which case they may not be allowed to seek justice through the civil court system.
In some cases, a plaintiff or their attorney might still be able to file a case past the statute of limitations. However, the attorney for the defendant would more than likely file a motion to have the case removed from the court system due to the expired statutory period, and the court would likely grant this request.
The Purpose of the Statutory Period
A statute of limitations helps level the legal playing field for both the plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases. Without a statute of limitations, many years could pass between the incident in question and the lawsuit filed over it, causing important evidence and memories to be lost or destroyed.
Given that many other states only allow between one and three years for civil injury cases involving sexual abuse, Florida has a relatively generous statute of limitations. Since the statute of limitations can vary if the victim was a minor when the abuse occurred, it may be wise to consult with an attorney who is well-versed in these types of cases.
The Importance of Filing Within the Statute of Limitations in a West Palm Beach Sexual Abuse Case
Although the period granted by the statute of limitations in West Palm Beach is four years for a sexual abuse case, it is usually important that victims who intend to file a claim consult with an attorney sooner rather than later. By doing so, they could help ensure their case is based on readily available evidence and will be admissible in court.
Even if potential plaintiffs are not sure they want to pursue civil action against their perpetrator, it could still be worthwhile to discuss their legal options and the possible outcomes of a case with a knowledgeable attorney. If you are ready to move forward and learn more about how civil law could support your search for justice, call today to schedule a case evaluation.