New Jersey’s civil statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases is much more expansive than Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations. New Jersey’s Child Sexual Abuse Act (CSAA) imposes a two year statute of limitations period for victims of child sex abuse. The clock beings ticking when the victim reasonably discovers that an injury (physical/mental) was caused by an act of abuse. Download the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act here.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Expire?
In most situations, students who suffer abuse by teachers do not come to grips with or even recall the abuse until many years later or well into adulthood. Once the victim makes the realization or “reasonably discovers” that physical/mental damage was caused by the abuse, he or she has two years to file suit.
Section b. of the CSAA provides as follows:
“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.”
What if the School Knew About the Abuse?
Under New Jersey law, schools can be sued under the CSAA, as a passive abuser. The CSAA allows victims to sue not only the active abuser, but also a passive abuser who is defined as a person who “knowingly permits or acquiesces in sexual abuse by any other other person…” See section a.(1) of the CSAA.
So a student who suffers abuse by a teacher could bring a lawsuit against the teacher as well as the school, for knowing of the abuse or otherwise failing to protect the student.
However, not every school will be able to be sued under the CSAA. Only schools which stand “in loco parentis” to the student will be permitted to be sued. In 2011, a New Jersey appellate court held that the public school in that case could not be sued under the CSAA because it did not stand “in loco parentis” to the student-victim (Y.G. v. Board of Education for the Township of Teaneck).
Every case is unique and depending on the facts, a school may successfully be sued under the CSAA. It is critical to discuss the case with a qualified child sex abuse civil lawyer immediately due to the time-sensitive nature of statute of limitations issues.
Related Legal Article: Civil Liability in School Sex Abuse Cases – What Claims are Usually Made?
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