We hear this question a lot: How long do I have to file a civil claim for child abuse? The answer is, “More time than you may think.” Obviously, the complete answer is more detailed and depends on the facts and law relating to the case.
A claim for child abuse against a private party or a private institution is timely if, “commenced before the person attains 40 years of age,” regardless of the date of the incident, or, alternatively, if filed within five years of the date the individual discovered or reasonably should have discovered “the causal connection between the injury and the child abuse.” Importantly, the statute also provides that a child abuse victim will benefit from whichever provision is longer, allowing some individuals to file claims even after the age of 40. See, ORS 12.117.
For claims against the State or public bodies (e.g., cities, counties, school districts etc.) a different, more stringent statute of limitations applies, as set forth in the Oregon Tort Claims Act. There, the general rule is that claims must be brought within two years of the abuse, and written notice of the claim must be provided within 180 days of the abuse. See ORS 30.275. Even those time limits are subject to flexibility, depending on the facts. The statute of limitations “clock” does not start ticking until the time the victim knew or reasonably should have known that the public entity was a cause of the abuse. In other words, the Oregon “discovery rule” doctrine applies to claims against state or local government. See, Kutz v. Lee, 291 Or.App.470 (2018).
If you or someone you love is a survivor of child abuse, chances are good that civil claims for compensation can still be brought and will not be time-barred. We help survivors of child abuse and neglect, even if they are now adults. We can help whether you were beaten, sexually abused, or neglected in foster care or while in the custody of the State. We can help if the abuse happened or continued because an agency improperly investigated child abuse and failed to protect a victim. Our initial conversation is safe and free. Call my paralegal, Estelle Watson, at (503) 364-1117, for an appointment or fill out the contact form located on our web site.