Statute of Limitations (time limits) to file a California Child Abuse Lawsuit

The basics you need to know for a California Child Abuse Lawsuit

If you are reading this, you have already been through the toughest thing you will have to face in your life.  Either you or a child you know was abused in California and you are considering filing a California Child Abuse Lawsuit.  Likely it was someone you knew, or who had access to you from a position of power or trust.  Daycare, school, church, sport team, theme park, camp.  You or your parents trusted them to care for you, and that trust was violated.   You or your child's physical or mental health was taken by the abuser, along with peace of mind.  Now, you want to correct the injustice.  You have already taken the first step by looking for information to do this.

While the law can seem complicated, and while you would need an attorney to start a case for a child (i.e. an adult can represent himself or herself, but probably should hire an attorney), there is some basic information you can learn to get started.  First, you learn about the time period you or the child might have to file a California child abuse lawsuit:

Time limits

For physical abuse, with a private (i.e. non-governmental defendant) the time limit is generally two (2) years from the date of the occurrence when the child was injured.  That two (2) year period, however, is tolled during the time when a child is a minor, and a child can typically file a lawsuit up until she or he turns twenty (20) for physical injuries.

For sexual abuse, there is a longer time period.  The time limit is typically 26 years of age in most circumstances, but can be extended (against the perpetrator) for time periods beyond age 26.  You may not be able to sue a third party who had a duty to protect you, however, if you wait until beyond age 26.

For cases involving state governmental defendants, a notice of the claim needs to be given usually within 6 months form the date of the occurrence for physical injuries.  A late claim may be attempted up to 1 year from the occurrence, but is not guaranteed to be accepted.  For childhood sex abuse claims against government entities occurring before January 1, 2009, the same 6 month notice time period applies.  For claims after that date, the 6 month restriction does not apply and the time limit of 26 years is thought to apply.  Again, this is basic information and should not be relied on as legal advice for your specific case, and may not be applicable to your specific case.  You should hire an attorney to get legal advice on your specific case.  

For cases involving federal government entities or employees, there is typically a strict two year time tlimit from the date of the occurrence, regardless of age. 


Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer