Are Civil Sexual Abuse Claims Different in Virginia, Maryland, and DC?

John Yannone answers questions about the jurisdictional differences in how civil sexual abuse claims are handled in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Are Sexual Abuse Claims Handled Differently in DC, Maryland, and Virginia?

DC MD VA Civil Claims on Sexual AbuseWell, there are some differences in the statute of limitations. Almost universally, when the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations doesn’t start until the victim’s 18th birthday, but then it is jurisdiction dependent regarding how long after the 18th birthday you are allowed to file suit. Some cases involve contracts which try to limit liability.

They’re called exculpatory clauses, and they often are used to try to either limit the exposure of the defendant totally, or make the defendant liable only for gross negligence or willful conduct as opposed to general negligence. Jurisdictions treat exculpatory clauses in different ways.  For example, Virginia says those contracts are void and  are absolutely not recognized whatsoever, whereas Maryland to some degree allows them, and DC doesn’t have any precedent on it.

So that can be a difference. Other general jurisdictional differences are the types of causes of action. Virginia, for example, doesn’t directly allow claims of negligent hiring and training, whereas Maryland and DC do. On the other hand, Virginia allows for claims of negligent retention. So there are differences in the causes of action that can be brought in different jurisdictions. You definitely need to know the different jurisdictions and their laws and procedures, because there are definite differences.

What Should Someone in Maryland Know About Sexual Abuse Claims?

Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages. So the pain and suffering and those types of non-economic damages are limited by statute depending upon when the incident occurred. There’s no limit to economic damages but the limit is applicable to non-economic damages.

What Should Someone in DC Know About Sexual Abuse Claims?

Generally speaking, DC is a fairly good jurisdiction to bring a claim a negligence claim because there is no cap and the law is pretty straightforward allowing for most causes of action. On the other hand, in DC the statute of limitations in most instances is three years after the 18th birthday, or if you’re an adult, three years from the occurrence. So they don’t have a particularly expanded statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases.