Are there time limits for child sex abuse compensation claims?

Published 01 Aug 2017

Child sexual abuse is extremely traumatising for victims, who can take decades to process their experiences and speak out against perpetrators.

Compensation is available to survivors, and while money will never remedy the harm they have suffered, many claimants feel it is a step in the right direction towards receiving justice.

However, personal injury claims in NSW typically have a three-year time limit from the date the incident occurred. This means plaintiffs must begin the process of pursuing compensation within this timeframe if they want to receive damage for child sex abuse.

But as we've discussed, victims often take far longer than three years to even admit they have been sexually abused, let alone begin civil proceedings. In fact, NSW Department of Justice figures indicate that the average time for someone to disclose child abuse experiences is 22 years.

Legislative changes in NSW

Changes to legislation in 2002 meant the statute of limitations could be extended to 12 years in certain cases, but where does this leave someone seeking redress after the time limit has passed?

Following revelations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the NSW government announced further updates to statute of limitation laws.

The Limitation Amendment (Child Abuse) Act 2016 was introduced into the state parliament on February 16 last year and received assent just one month later.

Under the new law, there are no time limits for child sex abuse compensation claims, meaning victims can pursue damages regardless of when the alleged incidents occurred. The changes are also retrospective, so they don't just apply to new cases of abuse but also cover historic crimes.

"There should be no use-by date for justice for survivors of child abuse. This change will remove a significant barrier in the way of that justice," Attorney General Gabrielle Upton said at the time.

How to start a child abuse compensation claim

Child abuse survivors who believe they are ready to begin proceedings should get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer for a consultation.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers provides free face-to-face and phone consultations to anyone who wants to discuss their case.

Our lawyers are dedicated, focused and compassionate, ensuring clients receive the best possible legal representation in their search to right historic wrongs. Please contact us today to learn more.