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Is there a time-limit on filing a civil suit for child sex abuse?

Some Connecticut residents may have heard of the term "statute of limitations." These laws place a time limit on taking a certain legal action. Some individuals may have heard about statutes of limitations in the context of the state bringing a criminal prosecution against an alleged perpetrator of a crime. What people may not know is that there are sometimes limitations on the filing of civil suits for the recovery of damages.

One such statute of limitation on civil matters can be found in Connecticut Code Section 52-577d. This law bars personal injury claims filed by individuals who say they were minor victims of sexual abuse, assault or exploitation more than 30 years after the victim reaches the age of majority. The general reason for such statutes is to encourage claims to be brought in a timely manner, so that the court system can study evidence and hear witness testimony when the incident involved is still somewhat fresh. Given this justification, 30 years may seem like a long time to some, but such a period of time recognizes that victims of childhood sexual abuse often need time to come to grips with what has happened to them and gain the courage to confront someone who has harmed them in such a way.

There are a few major differences between criminal and civil cases. First, criminal cases are brought by the state, while civil actions are begun by the victim him or herself. Second, while some criminal statutes allow the court to award restitution, the main punishments for criminal conviction are incarceration and fines that go to the state, while civil actions result in judgements that are to the benefit of the plaintiff.

Child sexual abuse is a horrible thing, whether one has suffered it oneself or suspects it has happened to one's child. Bringing the party or parties responsible to justice may happen in criminal court, but the alternative of a civil suit is present for those who feel another route is needed.

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