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What is the Adult Survivors Act?

Aug 03, 2022
Last updated Dec 11, 2023
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Many adult survivors of sexual abuse lose the opportunity to sue their abuser due to reluctance to come forward or to the repression of memories related to the abuse. Because sex abuse lawsuits have statutes of limitations that govern the amount of time someone has to file a lawsuit, many adult sex abuse survivors never get the chance to hold their abuser accountable and have to live out their lives with the trauma and negative consequences that come from sexual assault.

However, thanks to a new bill signed into law by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, adult survivors of sexual assault will now have a one-year window to file a lawsuit against their abuser for compensation, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Key Takeaways

  • The Adult Survivors Act allows sexual abuse survivors in New York to file a lawsuit against their abuser within a one-year time window
  • Claims that would have otherwise been expired are eligible under the Adult Survivors Act
  • The Adult Survivors Act revival period begins November 24, 2022, and ends November 24, 2023

Adult Survivors Act

In 2018 alone, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that over 730,000 people were estimated to have been raped in the US. Many of these sexual assaults go unreported for various reasons. The Adult Survivors Act creates a “lookback window” for adult survivors of sex abuse to pursue claims that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations. This law allows anyone over the age of 18 who has been sexually assaulted in New York to file a lawsuit within the one-year time period.

When Does the Adult Survivors Act Go Into Effect?

The Adult Survivors Act’s one-year claims window begins on November 24, 2022, giving sex abuse victims until November 24, 2023 to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. In addition to suing their abuser, adult sex abuse survivors may be able to bring a lawsuit against the perpetrator’s employer and any organizations or institutions that failed to stop the abuse from taking place or that played a role in covering up the abuse, including businesses, schools, and churches.

For example, an adult survivor of sexual assault may be able to sue their employer if the assault took place at work and the employer failed to thoroughly screen the other employee who committed the crime. In failing to see the signs or properly background check new hires, the employer may be found liable for negligence.

What Crimes are Eligible for Lawsuits Under the Adult survivors Act?

The Adult Survivors Act covers most New York sexual offenses, including:

  • First, second, and third-degree rape
  • First, second, and third-degree criminal sexual acts
  • First, second, and third-degree sexual abuse
  • First, second, and third-degree aggravated sexual abuse
  • First and second-degree incest
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Forcible touching
  • Persistent sexual abuse
  • Female genital mutilation

What Compensation May Be Recovered from an Adult Survivors Act Lawsuit?

Trauma from sexual abuse or sexual assault can manifest in many aspects of a survivor’s life, from their mental and physical health to their relationships with others and ability to have a successful career. Financial compensation can help sex abuse survivors access the treatment they may need, like therapy and counseling, which is often expensive and rarely covered by health insurance. The damages and compensation an adult survivor of sexual abuse and assault can recover varies by case, but may include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Past and future medical treatment costs related to the assault
  • Past and future mental health treatment costs
  • Past and future lost wages related to the assault and subsequent injuries

Why the Adult Survivors Act Was Created

Sexual abuse can affect each person differently. Many survivors of sexual abuse need time to process what happened, while some may take years to realize the gravity of what took place. For the same reasons why such a large amount of sex abuse goes unreported, survivors may also be reluctant to speak up about what happened out of fear of their abuser, judgment from others, or that they will not be believed. When these repressed memories resurface, they may have already lost the opportunity to hold their abuser accountable due to the statute of limitations. Now, adult sex abuse survivors in New York have a one-year window to file a claim against their abuser, any relevant third parties who may have enabled it, or both.

The Adult Survivors Act is modeled after the Child Victims Act, which allowed child survivors of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit against their abuser during a two-year time period. As a result of the Child Victims Act, over 9,000 child sex abuse survivors came forward to file lawsuits against their abuser and any enablers that would have otherwise been barred by the statute of limitations.

How Can a Sex Abuse Lawyer Help Me?

With a few months left until the one-year lookback window opens on November 24, adult sex abuse survivors whose lawsuit would otherwise be time-barred should consult with a New York sex abuse attorney if considering filing a lawsuit. An experienced sex assault lawyer will investigate your case and gather critical evidence, which may include medical records, police reports, witness accounts, and testimony from experts. A qualified sex abuse attorney will also act as your advocate throughout the legal process and fight for the maximum compensation that you may be entitled to.

See if You Qualify to File an Adult Survivors Act Lawsuit

The New York sexual assault lawyers of Edwards Henderson are compassionate and understanding of the trauma that comes with being a survivor of sexual assault. Our sex abuse attorneys are committed to holding abusers accountable for the pain and anguish they caused and have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of adult survivors of sexual abuse. If you or a loved one experienced sexual abuse in NYC and are considering filing a lawsuit under the Adult Survivors Act, contact Edwards Henderson today for a free legal consultation.

Article Sources

  1. National Sexual Violence Resource Center: Statistics

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