The impacts of sexual abuse on a child can last a lifetime, and can affect the child’s ability to trust and feel safe (1). The signs of childhood sexual abuse may not always be clear, and behaviors displayed by children can range from the development of new fears to a regression in developmental skills. Whether the abuse occurred recently or even decades ago, South Carolina’s statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases is more expansive than other states in the US. While there is technically no statute of limitations for any crimes, there is a statute of limitations for civil lawsuits.
Seeking retribution for sexual abuse cases can be overwhelming for survivors of sexual abuse, and difficult to navigate on your own. Child sexual abuse lawyers, such as the professionals at Strom Law, can help you begin the process with sensitivity to explore your possibilities. A child sexual abuse lawsuit should be addressed with care, and a reputable legal team can help.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases is either six years after the survivor’s twenty-first birthday, or three years after the victim realize that the abuse caused injury–whichever comes later. The scope of qualifying injuries can include post-traumatic stress disorder, physical disfigurement, or symptoms that result in medically-recommended psychological or emotional damage treatments.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations refers to “any law that the bar claims after a certain period of time passes after an injury” (2). There are statutes of limitations for both civil and criminal cases, and they often begin from the:
- Date the injury occurred
- Date the injury was discovered
- Date of which it would have been reasonably discovered
The statute of limitations is often thought of as the maximum set time after an event for legal proceedings to occur. In the case of child sexual abuse in South Carolina, this statute is further expanded. Survivors have six years after their twenty-first birthday or three years after the survivor realizes the abuse caused injury.
South Carolina’s Statute of Limitations
South Carolina, thankfully, recognizes these cases can be complex and it can take nearly a lifetime for survivors to come to terms with the impact of the abuse they endured. Survivors often subconsciously repress memories of the abuse as a means to cope (3). This can make it challenging to process the trauma and reach the point of being ready to file a lawsuit within a specific timeframe.
Because research supports the claim that childhood sexual abuse can impact brain function, South Carolina’s laws are structured in a way that a survivor may be able to file a lawsuit at any point in their life.
What Is Victim Compensation?
Survivors may be advised to seek victim compensation for the pain and injuries they have endured. Victim compensation is a direct financial reimbursement to the survivor of a crime that resulted in expenses for the survivor.
These expenses can include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses resulting from the abuse, including medically recommended mental health services and hospitalization costs
- Physical and emotional scars
- Mental anxiety, emotional distress, pain, and suffering
- Lost wages while healing from the trauma
- Relocation expenses
Survivors can file claims for compensatory damages via the civil courts if they so choose, or opt to seek litigation through criminal charges. Civil cases in terms of child sexual abuse refer to disputes between the survivor and alleged perpetrator, while criminal cases allege a violation of a criminal law. In the latter, the defendant may face judicial repercussions for their actions.
Getting Help for Survivors
Childhood sexual abuse cases can be challenging to navigate, and the accused will often fight back against allegations. For survivors, this can cause additional distress and make them feel alone in this battle.
At Strom Law, we believe these cases shouldn’t be ignored or swept under the rug. Child sexual abuse can impact a survivor for a lifetime, but the burden of litigation shouldn’t. The team at Strom Law handles each child sexual abuse case in South Carolina with empathy and sensitivity, so you know your case is in good hands.
Abused clients deserve compensation and justice, and with Strom Law, they don’t have to seek it alone. If you or someone you love is interested in pursuing legal action following a child sexual abuse incident, contact our team today to see how we can help.