New York Adult Survivors Act Lawyer

Last updated Apr 22, 2024
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New York Adult Survivors Act Lawyer

The New York Adult Survivors Act (ASA) allows adult survivors of sexual abuse to bring claims against their abusers and the institutions that enabled them until November of this year. The law provides survivors with a one-year window of time to seek damages from the abusers, who up until now may have been unable to due to the statutes of limitations.

With the help of an experienced and compassionate New York sex abuse lawyer, survivors can hold their abusers accountable and receive the justice and closure they deserve. At Edwards Henderson, our team of experienced sexual assault lawyers provides compassionate and knowledgeable representation for survivors of abuse.

We understand the courage it takes to come forward and seek justice, and our attorneys are here to help. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, contact the Adult Survivors Act lawyers of Edwards Henderson for a free legal consultation.

What is the New York Adult Survivors Act?

The New York State Adult Survivors Act (ASA) became law on May 24th, 2022, and went into effect on November 24, 2022. It created a one-year window for survivors of sexual assault to seek civil damages against their perpetrators and any institutions that protected or concealed the abuse. This law also allows survivors to hold their abusers accountable in a court of law even if the previous statutes of limitations had passed.

The ASA was modeled after the 2019 Child Victims Act (CVA), which created a lookback window for survivors of childhood sex abuse to file civil suits. Both the CVA and the ASA provide a long-awaited opportunity for survivors to come forward and seek justice for the harm they experienced.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse refers to any type of unwanted sexual contact imposed upon an individual against their will or without their consent. According to New York Penal Code Section 130(3), “sexual contact” involves any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party.

Sexual contact includes a perpetrator touching the victim (directly or through clothing) and/or perpetrators forcing victims to touch them. Sexual abuse profoundly impacts one’s physical and emotional health, relationships, and overall well-being. Although, with the necessary support and advocacy, survivors can heal from the trauma of sexual abuse and reclaim their lives.

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Why Do Adult Survivors Wait to File a Lawsuit?

The decision to file a sexual abuse lawsuit is never an easy one for survivors, especially when years have passed since the abuse occurred. Many complex factors contribute to why survivors delay filing lawsuits, including:

Fear of retaliation

Adult survivors of sexual abuse often fear retaliation for speaking up about their experiences. They may worry about being threatened or intimidated by their abusers or being punished by the authorities.

Fear of retaliation also extends to other aspects of their life, such as losing their job or facing social ostracization. In addition to that, survivors who signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) may fear legal repercussions for reporting abuse — a common misconception regarding sexual abuse and NDAs.

Fear of community backlash

Sexual abuse is often a taboo topic, and survivors may fear their community’s reaction to their disclosure. Some survivors may worry about the social and emotional consequences of coming forward, or that others might blame or judge them for not coming forward sooner.

Fear of community backlash is particularly common among survivors of clergy sex abuse, for members of racial and ethnic minorities, or if the abuser is a respected or well-liked member of the community.

Misplaced feelings about the sexual abuse

Abusers often gaslight their victims and convince them they were somehow responsible for the abuse. They may internalize feelings of guilt or even blame themselves for what happened. Additionally, rape culture and victim-blaming can make it even more difficult for survivors to come forward and seek justice.

Difficulty to come forward by certain sex abuse survivors

Male survivors and members of the LGBTQIA+ community may find coming forward with their experiences of sexual abuse especially difficult due to societal stigma and misconceptions about masculinity and sexual orientation.

Survivors with a history of trauma or other mental health issues may have a harder time coming forward. Others may struggle with feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or distrust in the justice system.

Anxiety that coming forward might be triggering

Adult survivors of sexual abuse assume speaking about their experiences could be triggering or re-traumatizing. They may worry that re-telling their story could bring up painful repressed memories or exacerbate existing mental health symptoms. However, many survivors find speaking up and taking action is empowering and a significant part of the healing process.

Lack of resources for legal representation

Survivors may fear they lack the financial resources to hire a sex abuse attorney and pursue a legal claim. That is why many sex abuse law firms, including Edwards Henderson, work on a contingency fee basis, meaning clients do not pay upfront legal fees.

There is no right or wrong timeline for adult survivors of sexual abuse to come forward about what they endured. Each survivor’s journey is unique, and it is essential to seek out the help and support that is right for their unique situation.

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What is the Lookback Window under the Adult Survivors Act?

The Adult Survivors Act (ASA) amended New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules and gave survivors of sexual offenses the right to file civil suits against their perpetrators or institutions that facilitated the abuse. The ASA provides a one-year period, known as the “lookback window,” to file lawsuits that were previously barred due to expired statute of limitations.

The lookback window began on November 24, 2022, and runs until November 24, 2023. Survivors of sex abuse in New York should take advantage of the ACA’s limited time window by contacting an experienced New York Adult Survivors Act lawyer to discuss their options and potential next steps.

What Does the Adult Survivors Act Cover?

The Adult Survivors Act provides a pathway for adult survivors of sexual abuse to hold their abusers accountable, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

The ASA covers a wide range of sexual offenses listed in Article 130 of the New York Penal Law, including but not limited to:

  • Forcible touching
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Persistent sexual abuse
  • Sexual abuse in the first, second, or third degree
  • Aggravated sexual abuse in the first, second, or third degree
  • Criminal sexual acts in the first, second, or third degree
  • Rape in the first, second, or third degree

Not every sexual offense falls within the scope of the ASA. Therefore, if you are a survivor of sexual abuse, seek guidance from an experienced attorney who can assess whether your claim falls under the ASA’s provisions.

Should I Hire A New York Adult Survivors Act Lawyer?

Yes, if you are thinking about filing a lawsuit under the ASA, consider hiring a New York Adult Survivors Act lawyer. An ASA lawyer has a deep understanding of NY laws and legal procedures and knows the ins and outs of the justice system. Qualified sexual abuse attorneys are also well-versed in collecting evidence and gathering the right witnesses to build a strong case.

A sex abuse attorney can help you pursue all forms of potentially available compensation, including:

  • Pain and suffering, both physical and emotional
  • Medical expenses related to the abuse, including therapy and medication
  • Lost wages and loss of income resulting from time taken off work due to the abuse or resulting trauma

Punitive damages, if the perpetrator acted with malice or extreme recklessness

What Do I Need to File A Lawsuit Under the Adult Survivors Act?

Claims must meet several requirements to qualify under the New York ASA.

First, the offense must have occurred when the survivor was 18 years or older. The offense must be considered a sexual offense as defined under New York penal law section 130. Additionally, the survivor does not have to report the abuse to the police or anyone else to file a lawsuit under the ASA.

Who Can Be Held Liable Under the NY Adult Survivors Act?

The New York Adult Survivors Act allows survivors of sexual abuse to file a civil sex abuse lawsuit against their attackers, as well as third parties who played a part in the abuse. This includes individuals or institutions that breached their legal duty of care to protect the survivor, failed to report the abuse, or covered up the crime.

Possible third-party defendants in a New York Adult Survivors Act lawsuit include but are not limited to

  • Universities and colleges: If the abuse occurred on university grounds, or if the institution failed to adequately screen employees, provide security, or report suspicions of abuse, they could be held liable.
  • Hospital or medical center: If the abuse occurred during a medical examination, or if a medical professional used their position of authority to coerce or abuse a patient, they could be held responsible. The medical center could also be liable if they inadequately screened or supervised the accused individual.
  • Cruise ships: Sexual abuse on cruise ships has been a longstanding issue. Cruise ship companies can be held liable for failing to protect their passengers from sexual predators or for covering up abuse that occurred on their ships.
  • Spas/Massage therapy: Spas and massage therapy establishments can be held liable for sexual abuse that occurs on their premises, particularly if they failed to conduct background checks on their employees or if they knew or should have known that the abuser had a history of inappropriate conduct.

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New York Adult Survivors Act: FAQs

1. My attacker is dead. Can I still file a sex abuse lawsuit?

Yes, in many cases, survivors can still take legal action even if their attacker passed away. A survivor’s lawsuit may provide critical evidence that helps substantiate the experiences of other survivors who suffered abuse at the hands of the same perpetrator or institution. 4. What happens after the lookback window is closed?

Once the Adult Survivors Act lookback window ends, cases that surpassed the statute of limitations may no longer be brought to court. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse but have yet to take legal action, time is of the essence. The best course of action is to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.

2. Why should I file a civil sex abuse lawsuit?

Filing a civil sex abuse lawsuit under the New York Adult Survivors Act can provide survivors with a sense of justice and closure, as well as financial compensation for the cost of therapy and other expenses related to the abuse. Taking legal action also helps hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and prevents them from continuing to harm others.

3. Can I afford an Adult Survivors Act lawyer?

Many survivors of sexual abuse are understandably concerned about the costs of pursuing legal action. However, most sexual abuse law firms, including Edwards Henderson, work on a contingency basis — this means that the lawyer’s fees come out of any damages awarded in the case, rather than upfront costs. Many law firms offer free initial consultations to determine the best course of action for your unique situation.

Adult Survivors Act Lawyer Near Me

Edwards Henderson’s NYC office is conveniently located in Lincoln Square at 1930 Broadway, Suite 12 B, across the street from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Metropolitan Opera House.

Our office is a short walk from Central Park and just a few blocks from Columbus Circle. We offer a safe space for survivors of sexual abuse to share their stories and are dedicated to helping survivors find justice, accountability, and healing.

Contact a Compassionate Adult Survivors Act Lawyer Today

The road to recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse can be difficult, but you do not have to navigate it alone. Our team at Edwards Henderson understands the sensitive and complex nature of these cases and provides compassionate support and guidance throughout the entire legal process.

Our sex abuse law firm has effectively pursued civil lawsuits against powerful individuals, organizations, and big businesses, and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of survivors.

With the Adult Survivors Act’s lookback window closing soon, it is crucial to act quickly and speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise necessary to guide you through the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Don’t let your abuser go unpunished. Contact Edwards Henderson today for a free legal consultation to discuss your legal options.

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