New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law in February and on Wednesday, that law went into effect. The Child Victims Act has opened a one-year window for child sex abuse survivors to file lawsuits, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
This law provides an opportunity for survivors who were previously denied justice to finally take legal action against their abusers and negligent institutions who failed in their legal duty to protect them from abuse. This one-year window will help countless victims who had previously missed the opportunity to file a lawsuit due to the statute of limitations expiring.
Many victims of sexual abuse hesitate to come forward until years or decades after the abuse occurred. The average age that survivors come forward is 52. Previously, this often meant that these victims would miss their opportunity to file a lawsuit. The Child Victims Act seeks to change that.
Along with the one-year window, the act has made several other changes designed to expand the ability of survivors to find justice in the legal system. Survivors may now file a lawsuit up until their 55th birthday, while the previous age limit was just 23 years old. The act also extends the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse charges to 28 years for some felony charges and up to 25 years for misdemeanors.
There have already been hundreds of lawsuits filed after this law went into effect at midnight. The majority of these claims are against Catholic dioceses throughout New York, including over 100 in 11 different counties which were filed electronically shortly after midnight.
The Boy Scouts of America and Rockefeller University are also expected to face a slew of lawsuits. Various school districts, foster homes, coaches, religious organizations, and other institutions are also expected to face hundreds of lawsuits.
Attorney contributor Laurence Banville represents survivors of sexual abuse in civil lawsuits. Laurence has offered to weigh in with some thoughts on filing a sex abuse victims lawsuit in New York:
With the passing of the Child Victims Act, survivors of sexual abuse in New York who had previously missed their opportunity to file a lawsuit now have a one-year window to do so. This provides survivors with the chance to find the justice they had previously been denied.
If you’re a survivor of child sexual abuse and wondering “can I sue for being sexually assaulted?“, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against your abuser and/or a third-party whose negligence allowed the abuse to happen. Some common third parties that can be held liable for the abuse of children under their watch include:
If you had previously been barred from taking legal action due to the statute of limitations expiring, it’s important to take action quickly. You can still find justice, but you must file a lawsuit before August 14, 2020.
You can learn more about your legal rights as a survivor of sexual abuse by speaking with an experienced sex abuse victim attorney in a free consultation.