Generally speaking, any legal action for an injury to a minor child in California, either physical or mental, is tolled until the child’s eighteenth birthday, meaning a lawsuit or settlement needs to happen within two years from the date the minor child turns eighteen. However, allegations of sexual abuse while a person was a minor child, contain special time frames for legal actions in California. In a legal action for a person over the age of eighteen, recovering for sexual abuse that happened while he or she was a minor child must be as follows: the time for the commencement of the legal action must be within eight years of the date the person attains the age of majority (eighteen years old) or within three years of the date the person discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of eighteen was caused by the sexual abuse, whichever period expires later, for any of the following actions:
- An action against a person for committing an act of childhood sexual abuse;
- An action for liability against any person or entity who owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, where a wrongful or negligent act by that person or entity was a legal cause of the childhood sexual abuse that resulted in the injury to the plaintiff;
- An action for liability against any person or entity where an intentional act by that person or entity was a legal cause of the childhood sexual abuse that resulted in the injury to the plaintiff.
There are numerous exceptions to the above rules. An experienced child injury attorney will need to be consulted in order to see if you have a case for childhood sexual abuse.
Child Abuse Agencies
Unfortunately, child abuse is a reality in today’s world, but there are some steps you can take in order to be proactive. If you suspect child abuse by a sexual offender, or if child pornography was involved, you can contact the following agencies for immediate help:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- California Child Protective Services (CPS)
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- U.S. Department of Justice—Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. See this link, to the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section with the Department of Justice Web site, for an explanation of how to report child pornography to the U.S. legal authorities: www.justice.gov/criminal/ceos/childporn.html
- Your local police department special victims unit
- Your local U.S. Postal Service