Recent scandals such as the allegations of child sexual abuse against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and similar allegations against Syracuse University coach Bernie Fine have been in the news a lot lately. As many people are aware, it is alleged that these acts of the sexual abuse began many years ago and occurred over a long period of time. For a variety of reasons, many of these allegations are only coming to light very recently.
As many people may know from watching television shows, the statute of limitations may act to prevent a person from bringing a lawsuit if too much time has passed since the person was harmed. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for most lawsuits where one person has caused harm to another is 2 years. Unfortunately, we too often receive calls from people who have been injured, but who have not called us until after the general two year statute of limitations has already passed.
However, a different statute of limitations exists in Pennsylvania in cases of childhood sexual abuse. Under the current Pennsylvania law, in many recent cases people who were sexually abused as a minor have until their thirtieth birthday to bring a claim against the person or persons responsible for the abuse. That means that even if the childhood sexual abuse happened many years ago, as allegedly happened in many cases in the Penn State scandal, a person who has not yet turned thirty years old may still have a right to bring a claim against the person or persons responsible for the abuse.
If you or someone you know was sexually abused as a child, it is important to be aware that your legal rights may extend beyond the general two year statute of limitations for most personal injury cases. However, it is critical to realize that this extension to the statute of limitations may depend on when the sexual abuse occurred, so you should contact an attorney to determine your legal rights as soon as possible. Stark & Stark has many lawyers experienced in all aspects of personal injury law and other areas of civil litigation, and we are available to discreetly answer any questions you may have regarding your legal rights.