In Queensland, the Limitation of Actions Act 1974, (“LAA”) sets out limitation periods for the commencement of various court proceedings in Queensland including claims for damages for personal injury.
Prior to 2017, the LAA required claims for damages for personal injury caused from childhood sexual abuse to be commenced within three years from the date of the injured child’s 18th birthday.
Prior to the Amendment, if a person who had suffered from sexual abuse as a child, decided to make a claim for damages for personal injury after they had turned 21, the onus was on the injured person to apply to the Court for an extension of the limitation period. This would only be granted in very limited circumstances and was often refused.
The three years time limit for claims for damages arising from childhood sexual abuse was effectively abolished by the Limitations of Actions (Child Sexual Abuse) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2016.
Now childhood victims of sexual abuse can commence a claim for damages for personal injury no matter how long ago the sexual abuse occurred. This can include circumstances where the victim’s claim was previously determined to be outside the three-year limitation period.
While a Defendant to such a claim may be able to apply to the Court to dismiss or stay the claim on the basis that the passage of time has become so burdensome that it would not be possible for the Defendant to receive a fair trial, the onus is now on the Defendant to prove this to the Court and consequently this exception would only be granted in very limited circumstances.
Macrossan & Amiet has an experienced personal injuries law team that can assist clients with further advice on claims for damages for personal injuries including injuries caused from childhood sexual abuse.