The new law, passed in 2022 known as Adult Survivor Act provides a window for survivors of sexual abuse to seek justice and expands the liability of institutions that enabled or allowed past abuse.
What is covered under the Adult Survivor Act?
First, the Act allows survivors of sexual abuse to bring a complaint against the perpetrators during a one-year window, regardless of when the abuse occurred. The window runs from November 24, 2022, to November 24, 2023. This will allow a huge number of survivors whose experiences had “timed out” under existing statutes of limitations to seek justice for the abuse they experienced.
Second, the Adult Survivor Act also permits claims against institutions that committed negligent or intentional acts that contributed to the abuse. That means, for example, that employers that failed to establish or enforce policies to prevent abuse could be held accountable for negligence. It also means that churches and colleges that moved abusers from one position to another in order to avoid scandal could be held liable for intentional acts.
Similar to the Child Victims Act, the Adult Survivors Act arises from the understanding that victims of sexual abuse may have many reasons for not coming forward within the statute of limitations. Those reasons range from shame and the suppression of traumatic memories to a well-founded fear of retribution.
How can I file a lawsuit under the Adult Survivor Act?
The Act expands survivors’ ability to bring a civil lawsuit against their abusers during the one-year window.
Sexual abuse often results in long-term harm to a victim’s mental health. This impacts many areas of a person’s life, such as:
- Survivors’ ability to pursue higher education or other opportunities for advancement.
- Their ability to find and keep a job.
- Their enjoyment of intimate romantic relationships.
- Relationships with their own children.
Under the Adult Survivors Act, survivors can hold their abusers, as well as institutions that enabled the abuse, liable for all of these harms, leading to significant financial compensation.
If you were subjected to sexual abuse, working with a sexual assault lawyer helps you to establish a monetary value to each of the harms you’ve experienced, including:
- The cost of mental health support.
- Lost wages due to work or educational challenges.
- A valuation of “quality of life” loss, such as failed relationships or periods of anxiety or depression.
Statute of Limitations under the Adult Survivor Act
The new law doesn’t permanently change the statute of limitations. For criminal complaints against abusers, the statute of limitations in New York is 2 years for misdemeanors and 5 years for felonies. For civil claims, lawsuits need to be filed within 3 years in most cases. Once the one-year window expires, those statutes of limitations will apply again.
How do I choose an attorney?
If you plan to file a lawsuit under the Adult Survivors Act, choosing the right sexual abuse lawyer is important. A good lawyer will improve your chances of success. They will also increase the damages assessed against the abuser and any institution that contributed to the abuse.
A quality sexual abuse lawyer will have direct experience working with victims of abuse and sex trafficking. They will understand the numerous ways in which abuse can impact your life. They’ll also be able to show success bringing cases under the Child Victims Act.
For a free consultation with a sexual abuse lawyer who meets these criteria, use this link.