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June 27th, 2013

School Sex Abuse Claims in New Jersey (Part 1) – NJ’s Child Sex Abuse Act & the Statute of Limitations

There has been increasing reports of sex abuse within schools around the country. Click here to see news related to school sex abuse cases.

The issue in many school sex abuse cases is whether a civil claim against a school, teacher, etc. is barred by the statute of limitations. Part 1 of this article series will discuss the statute of limitations in a school sex abuse case in New Jersey.

In New Jersey, the Child Sex Abuse Act details not only the statute of limitations in a child sex abuse or molestation case, but also the parties who may be sued. Click here to download New Jersey’s Child Sex Abuse Act (CSAA), New Jersey Statutes Annotated 2A:61B-1.

New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Tort Actions

Generally, New Jersey law requires those who have been injured due to the acts of others to file any and all legal claims within two years of the occurrence of the act. If acts are continuing, then the two year clock starts ticking on the day of the last act. For example, in a physical assault situation where the acts occur over a period of time, the last date to file a claim is two years from the date of the last act. It is important to note that statute of limitations issues are very complex and must be reviewed by a lawyer. There may be other factors which come into play when determining when the statute of limitations expires.

The Statute of Limitations in a Child Sex Abuse Claim

The CSAA relaxes the usual 2 year statute of limitations. When passing this law, the New Jersey legislature understood that victims of childhood sexual abuse may not truly discover/remember the abuse until well into adulthood. Therefore, the CSAA allows victims of child sex abuse to bring claims, not 2 years after the act occurred, but 2 years from the date that the victim reasonably uncovered that he or she was injured by the abuse. Section 1b. provides:

In any civil action for injury or illness based on sexual abuse, the cause of action shall accrue at the time of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse.  Any such action shall be brought within two years after reasonable discovery.

In other words, the clock starts ticking when the victim discovered the damage caused by the abuse and learned that it was caused by the abuse. For example, a student who was sexually abused by a teacher or coach may become diagnosed with anxiety, depression or may experience other issues, such as issues with sexual intimacy many years later, well into adulthood. After counseling, the person realizes and makes the connection between the problems and the sexual abuse. In New Jersey, the two year clock would start ticking at the point of the reasonable discovery of the connection between the abuse and the problems.

Click here to read part 2 of this article about New Jersey school sex abuse claims.

Related Legal Articles:

New Jersey School Sex Abuse Lawyers – Representation by a Former Sex Crimes Unit Prosecutor

Our attorneys serve sexual abuse victims in the following areas: Atlantic County, NJ; Burlington County, NJ; Camden County, NJ; Cumberland County, NJ; Gloucester County, NJ; Salem County, NJ; Allegheny County, PA; Berks County, PA; Bucks County, PA; Chester County, PA; Delaware County, PA; Lehigh County, PA; Montgomery County, PA; Northampton County, PA: Philadelphia County, PA; New Castle County, DE; he County, DE; Atlantic City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Newark, NJ; Doylestown, PA; Media, PA; West Chester, PA; Norristown, PA; Camden, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Newark, DE; Georgetown, DE; and New Castle, DE. Our lawyers can also obtain special admission in other states such as New York or Delaware on a case by case basis.

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