New York Statute of Limitations
For many survivors of sexual abuse, the decision to speak about the abuse and seek redress for their injuries can be psychologically and emotionally challenging. Historically, even when survivors of sexual abuse finally decided to come forward with their stories, their legal claims would be barred by the statute of limitations, which sets the maximum time for claimants to initiate legal action. The particular nature of sex abuse claims – the abusive conduct often occurs in childhood and victims routinely do not disclose the abuse until adulthood- meant that many survivors were precluded from filing claims and ultimately holding their abusers accountable for their actions since the statute of limitations had already expired. In the past year, New York was one of several states that has amended their statute of limitations for child sexual abuses claims to extend the time for victims to bring actions against their abusers.
Key Provisions of the Child Victims Act (CVA)
The New York Child Victims Act (CVA) originally authorized victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits against abusers and their institutions for one year starting August 15, 2019. Governor Cuomo subsequently extended the one year filing window for an additional year so that it now expires on August 14, 2021. This one-time window will permit the filing of hundreds, if not thousands, of cases that were previously barred due to the statute of limitations that precluded victims from bringing lawsuits after they turned 23 years of age. The “look-back window” of one-year permits survivors of any age to bring lawsuits against their attackers regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. In addition to the “look-back window,” survivors of sexual abuse can now file civil lawsuits for sexual abuse until they reach the age of 55. The new law also allows prosecutors to file criminal charges against abusers until the survivor turns 28 years old.
Hundreds of Lawsuits Filed Upon Passage of the CVA
With the passage of the CVA, a wave of new lawsuits has flooded the courts in New York. On the first day alone, 439 CVA cases were filed by day’s end – a large portion of which were filed against Catholic dioceses across the state. Other large organizations were also named in lawsuits, including the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Boy Scouts of America. Several actions were also filed against public school employees and the estate of Jeffrey Epstein. Many of these lawsuits allege that sexually abusive behavior occurred for decades beginning in the mid-1960s.
Who May be Liable Under the CVA?
The legislation provides that lawsuits can be filed “against every party whose intentional or negligent acts or omissions are alleged to have resulted in the commission” of sexual abuse against children. Individuals named in the lawsuits include priests, scout leaders, teachers, sports coaches, doctors, professors and camp counselors. The institutions that employed and supervised these individuals may also be sued for negligence in overseeing their employees and failing to investigate and/or take steps prevent the abusive conduct.
Potential accusers under the CVA range from those who have decided to come forward for the very first time to those who previously filed claims in court but were told their claims exceeded the statute of limitations. Whether the abuse occurred several years ago or decades ago, the passage of the CVA recognizes the reality of how survivors process and report the sexual trauma they have suffered. Now survivors of sexual abuse can seek the justice they deserve without the legal impediments that once denied them the opportunity to have their day in court.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, Levy Konigsberg can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We have recovered millions of dollars for victims of sexual abuse. Please call today for a free and confidential consultation with attorneys at our firm specializing in sexual abuse cases. Please call 1-800-225-9825 or submit an email inquiry above.