Florida Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations

December 13, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Florida Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations

How Long Do You Have to File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

Sexual abuse is a horrible experience that affects thousands of people across the country. People can be sexually assaulted or abused in many different situations, including:

  • When the abuser is in a position of power over the victim, such as a co-worker or boss
  • When the victim trusted the abuser because of their relationship, for example, as a family member or clergy member or
  • A total stranger might commit this terrible criminal act.

These abusers should be brought to justice, and those who have suffered sexual abuse deserve to know that their abusers are suffering the consequences of their actions. The process of seeking financial justice for sexual abuse does have an expiration date, unfortunately.

Florida law has established a statute of limitations that controls civil sexual abuse lawsuits. This law creates a window of opportunity for someone to file a lawsuit against an abuser or other party to claim financial damages related to sexual abuse. Each state has created a sexual abuse statute of limitations, and the timeframe will vary from state to state.

If you try to file a civil lawsuit after the applicable statute of limitations has expired, there's a good chance the lawsuit will be dismissed. In sexual abuse cases, the filing deadline usually depends on the amount of time that has passed since the sexual abuse occurred. However, some exceptions may apply, so it's wise to consult with an experienced sexual abuse attorney to fully understand how long you have to file suit under the Florida sexual abuse statute of limitations.

Florida Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Basics

Most people know that a sexual abuser can be prosecuted in criminal court for the crime of sexual assault. In the criminal law scenario, the perpetrator of the sexual abuse crime is prosecuted by the state, and the goal is to ensure that justice is served by punishing a sexual abuser who is found guilty of the crime. Upon a conviction, the sexual abuse victim knows that their abuser will be punished, but the victim does not receive any help dealing with the damages caused by the sexual abuse.

Many sexual abuse and assault victims may not realize that they could have the right to bring a civil claim against the abuser as well. While an abuse victim may not have much control over how or when a criminal charge is prosecuted, they can take steps to further protect their legal rights by bringing a civil lawsuit to recover financial damages from the abuser and other involved entities.

Sexual abuse victims have the right to take legal action against the individuals who sexually abused them, as well as any negligent institutions that allowed these awful crimes to occur. Some examples of entities that might be held responsible for sexual abuse include the Catholic diocese, Boy Scouts of America, schools and park districts, and even major corporations.

Oftentimes, the perpetrator of the sexual abuse will not be able to compensate a sexual abuse victim either because they don't have the financial ability or because they are incarcerated. Therefore, those filing lawsuits will have to look to other parties for potential compensation. This is where filing a lawsuit against an entity whose negligent actions helped contribute to sexual abuse can help.

Learn more: Sexual Assault in an Uber

Explaining the Florida Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

The statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases in Florida is different depending on whether it is a civil case or a criminal case. A person who wants to bring a civil sexual abuse lawsuit must file their lawsuit within the following deadlines.

  • 7 years after the victim reaches the age of majority if the victim was a child at the time of the abuse
  • 4 years after the victim leaves the dependency of the abuser
  • 4 years from the time of the discovery of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse (whichever date is later between the last two options) and
  • With sexual battery involving a minor under 16 years old, there is no statute of limitations.

The third option above represents what is called the delayed discovery rule. Florida enacted these criteria for the statute of limitations specifically for victims who were abused in situations where they were unaware of the abuse or they have repressed the abusive memory. Once the victim realizes they were abused, they can file a lawsuit not based on the date the crime occurred but based on their knowledge of the abuse.

It is imperative that those who have faced sexual abuse meet these filing limitations, or their case could be dismissed. In child sexual assault cases, it is especially important to understand the complicated legal options. Turn to a skilled child sexual assault attorney who can assist you with your claim.

Why You Should File Your Sexual Abuse Lawsuit as Soon as Possible

Even though you may feel like you have several years to file a sexual abuse lawsuit against an abuser, do not delay. Speak to an experienced sexual abuse attorney right away to begin gathering evidence and preparing your case as soon as possible. Lawsuits can be long, complex processes. It is important that you make your claim as soon as possible so the defense cannot attempt to attack your credibility because of your delay.

Dolman Law Group Handles Catholic Church and Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Claims

Dolman Law Group has extensive experience handling civil sexual abuse cases where abuse survivors recover compensation from the institutions that are responsible for their suffering. If you or someone you love have suffered sexual abuse resulting from the negligent conduct of an institution, reach out to our compassionate abuse lawyers today.

We are not afraid to challenge organizations such as the Catholic church, the Boy Scouts of America, or large corporations that allow employer sexual harassment. When you speak with the legal team at Dolman Law Group during a free consultation, you can learn more about what our lawyers can do for you. We can provide the invaluable information you need to decide how to proceed when considering legal action.

To contact the dedicated legal professionals at Dolman Law Group about a free consultation, call our Clearwater office at (727) 451-6900 or fill out our contact form online.

Work With an Experienced Attorney Who Understands the Florida Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations

If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of sexual assault and/or sexual abuse, you may be able to seek compensation for the damages you suffered through a civil lawsuit. Sexual abuse can affect not just the individual victim but whole families and even entire communities.

Dolman Law Group provides skilled legal representation to those who are ready to hold sexual abusers accountable for their actions. When you enlist the legal assistance of the compassionate team of sexual abuse attorneys at Dolman Law Group, you have a better chance of recovering a fair and reasonable financial resolution.

Our lawyers have been serving the people of Florida for decades, and we have successfully secured compensation for sexual abuse survivors from parties who allowed the abuse to occur. Dolman Law Group offers free consultations where we can explain how our sexual abuse lawyers can seek justice by bringing a lawsuit on your behalf.

For your free consultation with the team at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, contact us online or call our office at (727) 451-6900.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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