The New York Adult Survivors Act (ASA) provides a one-year window for sexual abuse survivors aged 18 years or older at the time of their assault to file lawsuits against their abusers or other liable parties. Such lawsuits were once time-restricted by the pertinent statute of limitations.
The ASA follows in the footsteps of the Child Victims Act (CVA), which created a two-year timeframe (August 14, 2019 to August 14, 2021) for childhood sexual abuse survivors to file claims that were also previously barred due to time limitations.
When Can I File a Civil Claim for Adult Sexual Abuse?
On May 24, 2022, Governor of New York Kathy Hochul signed the ASA and passed it into law. As a result, the open window for adult survivors to file civil claims is now set to begin on November 23, 2022 and end on November 23, 2023.
Before the ASA, many victims who were 18 or older at the time of their sexual assault were given only a short time (generally between one and three years, depending on circumstances) to file a civil lawsuit. In 2019, the CVA extended this timeline to 20 years (CVP § 213-C).
However, this recent legislation was not retroactive and only applies to new cases, hence the need for the “lookback” period for filing, which the ASA provides. Adult victims can file cases during this period no matter when the statute of limitations expired.
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When Can I File a Civil Claim for Child Sexual Abuse?
Before the CVA, child sexual abuse survivors had only a brief window of time after turning 18 (generally between one and five years, depending on specific circumstances) to file a civil claim against their abuser.
As noted, the CVA provided a “lookback” period like the ASA, which ended on August 14, 2021. Nonetheless, if you are a survivor and your claim has not yet expired, you have until you turn 55 to file a lawsuit, per CVP § 208(b).
Potential Allegations in Adult Survivors Act Lawsuits
Two types of legal allegations apply to civil claims filed under the ASA:
- A survivor could file an intentional tort against the perpetrator based on the crime they willfully committed against them, be it rape, sexual abuse, etc. Damages could be recovered from the offender even if they were not charged or convicted, as civil lawsuits have a lower evidentiary standard than criminal cases.
- A survivor could file an allegation of negligence, naming an institution or the perpetrator’s employer as the liable party. Moreover, if the employer or institution knew or should have known about the sexual assault and failed to prevent it, they may be considered negligent and therefore liable for damages incurred by the survivor.
Potential Damages in Adult Survivors Act Lawsuits
Under certain circumstances, the ASA enables sexual abuse and assault survivors to file a civil lawsuit seeking repayment for losses related to their injuries in the form of damages. Damages might include:
- Mental health bills resulting from treating psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Past and future lost wages, as the emotional impact of sexual assault can also affect a person’s ability to maintain gainful employment
Some types of damages don’t have a price tag and cannot be calculated using only bills and receipts. These often include losses related to the following:
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
Survivors commonly seek these damages as compensation for their emotional and personal losses resulting from their sexual assault.
In addition to compensatory damages, a sexual assault survivor may be able to recover punitive damages, which are meant to punish the perpetrator for their wrongful actions and discourage them and others from engaging in such harmful acts in the future.
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Do I Need a Sexual Abuse Attorney to File a Lawsuit Under the Adult Survivors Act?
Are you or a loved one a survivor of sexual abuse or assault that occurred at age 18 or older? Do you want to file a lawsuit under the ASA and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses? If so, you might be able to file claims against both the perpetrator and the business, institution, or entity that employed or managed them when your sexual abuse occurred.
We encourage you to contact our legal team at Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers and schedule a free, confidential consultation with a team member as soon as possible. We can discuss your legal rights and options and explain how Darryl “The Hammer” Isaacs or another sexual abuse lawyer from our team can help you seek justice and compensation for your suffering.