Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Bringing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted Friday, March 30, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Another trial is underway in a lawsuit filed against the Kennewick School District for allegedly failing to protect high school students from sexual abuse.

15 men claim that administrators and teachers knew that Bill Pickerel, a former teacher and wrestling coach, took out-of-town trips with male students. They are seeking millions of dollars in damages for the district’s alleged negligence in allowing Pickerel to take students on these overnight trips.

The Facts

Pickerel worked for the Kennewick School District for almost 40 years. He started his career at Park Junior High before teaching at Kennewick High, where he retired in 1998. He continued on as a part-time substitute teacher until he was removed from that list in 2007.

He pleaded guilty in 2008 to molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor. Over the years, Pickerel took numerous boys on overnight trips to Seattle, which were not sponsored by the school or school district. The district argues that the parents allowed their sons to take these trips, but the men argue that the district knew about the trips and did not follow the proper standard of care to keep the students safe.

While the criminal charges involved five boys, Pickerel confessed to police that he lost count of the number of boys he molested during a 27-year period. He served five and a half years of a 10-year jail sentence and is not a party to the civil suit. He is, however, a registered sex offender.

The civil lawsuit involves men ranging in age from their 20s to late 40s. How are these men able to bring these lawsuits years, and sometimes decades, after these trips took place?

The Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Washington is normally three years from the date of the accident or injury. But claims based on childhood sexual abuse are treated differently. The state recognizes that victims “may repress the memory of the abuse or be unable to connect the abuse to any injury.” And while “victims may be aware of injuries related to the childhood sexual abuse, more serious injuries may be discovered many years later.”

That is why the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit based on childhood sexual abuse does not even begin to run until the child turns 18. Claims may be filed within the later of the following periods:

Note that it does not matter what the child’s parent or guardian knew or did not know. That knowledge “shall not be imputed to a person under the age of eighteen years.”

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you or a loved one were the victim of childhood sexual abuse. Our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your claim and help recover the compensation that you deserve.