The negligence of people in power can allow abuses to occur, making those negligent parties equally responsible for resulting damages. Through a lawsuit, victims of sexual abuse and assault can hold all liable parties accountable.
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Survivors of sexual abuse and assault need time to process what happened to them. Many feel shame and guilt, believing they are to blame.
Recently, New York passed two significant pieces of legislation to make it easier for survivors to file civil lawsuits against their sexual abusers by extending the statute of limitations.
On May 24, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act (ASA). This legislation creates a one-year lookback period–dating six months from the signing. It allows sexual assault survivors–over 18 at the time of the attack–to sue their alleged abusers no matter when it occurred. The ASA temporarily bypasses the statute of limitations in New York for filing a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
Thus, survivors have until November 23, 2023, to file a lawsuit against the alleged perpetrator, as well as against employers or public or private institutions that knew or should have known about the sexual assault.
These may include:
Sexual abuse destabilizes a child. Scars caused by psychological and emotional trauma may never truly heal. It can take decades for a child to process it.
Before the passage of the Child Victim’s Act of 2019 (CVA), the statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors to file a lawsuit against their abuser was one to five years after turning 18.
The CVA extends the statute of limitations so that survivors may file civil lawsuits against their abusers until they reach the age of 55. As with the ASA, survivors can file claims against institutions that should have been aware of the abuse.
The CVA is like the ASA in that it created a one-year lookback period enabling child sexual abuse victims unable to sue under the old law to file civil claims against the perpetrators. Nearly 11,000 suits were filed by the deadline of August 14, 2021.
The New York Child Sex Abuse Lawyers at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP can help you receive the justice you deserve.
The ASA and the CVA are just two examples of the legal options sexual abuse survivors now have in New York. The New York Injury Attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP will discuss all of your legal options with you based on the specific circumstances surrounding your case. Contact us today to discuss your civil case.
Sexual abuse and assault are criminal offenses. A person who commits either crime can potentially be sentenced to prison or required to register as a sex offender, which carries several restrictions for the offender.
Cases of sexual abuse and assault can also be the subject of civil lawsuits. In civil court, victims of sexual abuse and assault can pursue financial compensation for the damages resulting from the assault. This may include the cost of medical treatment or therapy, but more commonly will account for non-economic damages.
Civil claims provide victims with an outlet for recovering compensation for the mental anguish and emotional distress they have endured as a result of sexual abuse or assault. Although money cannot reverse these effects, civil claims are a way for victims to achieve justice outside of criminal court.
Additionally, civil claims related to sexual abuse and assault give victims an opportunity to hold parties other than the offender accountable for negligence. Sexual abuse and assault can result when third-party negligence allows abuses to occur and can continue if responsible parties do not respond to reports.
In cases of sexual abuse and assault, the person who commits the offense can face criminal charges and civil liability. However, it is also possible — and common — for the negligence of others to allow abuse and assault to occur.
Businesses and entities that do not implement adequate security measures do not conduct extensive background checks of their employees, or fail to respond to reports of sexual abuse and assault can be held liable for incidents that result from their negligence. Lawsuits can be filed against these parties to recover damages.
A financial settlement or judgment award for a civil lawsuit can never provide adequate compensate for the trauma of sexual abuse. That is not its purpose. Damages and compensation in civil sexual abuse cases acknowledge that a grave injustice was suffered and society has determined through its laws that some form of criminal and civil remedy should be imposed upon the offending party. They are society’s manner of holding perpetrators and institutions accountable for sexual abuse as well as deterring further behavior toward others in the future.
Financial compensation and settlements also ease the burden of medical care, mental health counseling and other costly services that help sexual abuse victims process their abuse and move forward toward healing. Let’s look at the different types of damages that are possible in New York civil sexual abuse claims:
Compensatory damages are monies awarded to a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit. They are meant to compensate them for physical injuries and other losses resulting from another party’s unlawful or negligent conduct. Compensatory damages may be categorized as economic damages or noneconomic damages.
Economic damages (or actual damages) reflect the losses that are quantifiable, including:
Noneconomic damages (or general damages) reflect losses that do not involve actual, monetary expenses, including:
The plaintiff must show that a loss occurred to recover compensatory damages. Our experienced sexual assault and abuse lawyers understand how to determine and calculate both economic and non-economic damages, including the retention of experts when necessary.
The threshold to obtain punitive damages is higher than it is for compensatory damages. The plaintiff must provide clear and convincing proof that shows the defendant acted with extreme negligence.
Because sexual abuse is intentionally and maliciously harmful, punitive damages maymake sense in these cases, especially when they involve minors, the elderly, and other vulnerable individuals. Punitive damages are only considered when the behavior is particularly egregious and are characterized as “outrageous” such as would be found in a criminal case. Prozeralik v. Capital Cities Comm’ns, Inc., 82 N.Y.2d 466, 479 (1993).
A compelling case supported by factual evidence and expert testimony is essential for increasing the likelihood of substantial compensation in sexual abuse claims. Always save medical records, written and digital communications, and other documentation that may be beneficial to your case and share them with your lawyer.
Our New York sexual assault lawyers at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP understand the impact of sexual abuse on mental and physical well-being. That is why we advocate deftly to achieve justice for those who have been violated by those who have a fiduciary duty toward the victim. Presently, we have recovered more than $2 billion for our clients.
Sexual abuse and assault claims must be filed within a certain amount of time. The statute of limitations is a law that establishes that timeline. Adherence to the statute of limitations is crucial in order for a claim to be approved.
In the state of New York, victims of childhood sexual abuse and assault can file lawsuits against offenders and liable third parties until they are 55 years old.
Contact Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP to speak with our sexual abuse and assault attorneys in New York. We will support you throughout your case and are available to answer your questions.
While the trauma of sexual abuse may never fade completely, our team helps survivors seek justice by filing civil lawsuits against the perpetrators. While these are not criminal proceedings, a civil lawsuit will hold abusers–and potentially the institutions that enabled it–monetarily responsible.
In a civil trial, the standard of proof is the preponderance of the evidence, an easier standard to meet than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal trials. Our case results speak for themselves.
The Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP legal team can help you navigate a sexual abuse lawsuit. We are dedicated to achieving justice and protecting the rights of survivors.