Child Victims Act and Statutes of Limitations
Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 at 3:31 pm
For most survivors of sexual abuse, it’s emotionally and psychologically devastating to speak up about what happened. Many don’t come forward at all out of fear or shame. Some worry no one will believe them, or their attacker will retaliate in some way. Even if a victim of sexual abuse does decide to face their abuser, it could be too late to pursue legal action because of the statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations sets a deadline for individuals to seek compensation for an injury they suffered. A lot of sexual abuse victims are well past their state’s statute of limitations for childhood sex crimes. Even though they want to hold their abuser responsible for what they did years or decades ago, they can’t. They have to live with what happened to them and know they’re unable to seek justice.
New York Child Victims Act
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In 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed the Child Victims Act. It allows those who suffered sexual abuse as a child to come forward and file a lawsuit against their abuser. Under the new law, they have a one-year window to pursue legal action despite the statute of limitations.
In addition to the window, sexual abuse survivors can now file civil lawsuits until they turn 55 years old. It’s also possible to file criminal charges against alleged abusers until the victim turns 28 years of age.
Since this new law passed, thousands of individuals sexually abused as children filed lawsuits to have their day in court and face their attacker. There have been a surprising number of lawsuits filed against the Catholic dioceses throughout the state of New York. Some notable organizations also came under scrutiny, such as the Boy Scouts of America.
Who is Liable Under the Child Victims Act?
The law allows victims to pursue civil action against any party who participated in or knew about the sexual abuse. Even if someone didn’t perform abusive acts, if they knew it was happening and actively tried to cover it up, they could be held legally responsible.
Many lawsuits named priests, scout leaders, sports coaches, teachers, doctors, camp counselors, and professors. The entities that employed those individuals could face legal trouble for failing to stop the abuse from occurring or trying to hide it.
How the Child Victims Act Could Affect You
Children of sexual abuse usually lack the courage to speak out about what happened to them. They can’t remove themselves from their horrific situation or care for themselves. Many survivors feel a great deal of shame and aren’t ready to talk about it until a lot of time has passed. By then, the statute of limitations is up, and they can’t file a lawsuit.
This new law gives you time to retain a lawyer and prepare yourself for the battle ahead. You finally get to seek justice and hold the people responsible for what they did to you when you were a defenseless child. If you’re unsure of how to sue your abuser, you should seek legal representation.
An experienced lawyer will obtain all the sufficient evidence available and fight aggressively throughout your case. Even though no amount of money can take away what happened to you, it can punish the parties that caused you harm.
You Can Prepare Your Case Despite Court Closures
Even though the court system has come to a screeching halt, many lawyers are working with their clients to prepare a lawsuit in preparation for when courts resume operations. It’s never too early to hire a lawyer and discuss your options.
Even if you can’t file your lawsuit right away, you can prepare documentation and evidence for when the courts reopen. If it takes several months and you didn’t prepare, you lose all that valuable time and have to start from scratch. The deadline isn’t far away, and if Governor Cuomo doesn’t grant an extension, you’ll likely run out of time.
New York Dioceses File for Bankruptcy
After receiving hundreds of lawsuits citing childhood sexual abuse and assault, the Buffalo diocese had to file for bankruptcy. The volume of claims among the eight New York dioceses caused concern that bankruptcy was inevitable.
The first diocese to file for bankruptcy was in Rochester. They filed for Chapter 11 protection one month after the Child Victims Law became effective. They stated that it was the best way to protect their assets and pay settlements to the victims of sex abuse.
Let Hach & Rose, LLP Help You with Your Sexual Abuse Case
Were you the victim of childhood sexual abuse? Did you suffer severe physical or emotional damage because of it? If so, Hach & Rose, LLP can represent you and seek the justice you deserve.
Even if the events of your abuse took place decades ago, we’ll cite the Child Victims Act to pursue compensation from your abuser. We understand the pain you experienced and how tough it is to come forward. You won’t have to go through this alone. We have experience handling cases just like yours and will treat you with compassion and sensitivity.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we believe it’s important to stand up to the person who caused you harm. You suffered long enough, and we’ll work hard to help you put this traumatic experience behind you.
Our lawyers have combined experience of over 100 years. We use all the resources at our disposal to ensure we win the maximum financial award available. To schedule your free consultation, call (212) 779-0057, and we’ll discuss how to get you on the road to recovery.