The Child Victims Act provides childhood sexual abuse victims across the state with an opportunity to hold those responsible– accountable. Previously, the statute of limitations left countless victims without recourse once they attained the confidence they needed to face their abusers in court. 

When dealing with a legal process, it is always necessary to follow strict procedures to allow your claims to be heard. A New York sex abuse attorney like those at the law firm of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green can help safeguard your claim by ensuring you follow those necessary steps.

Eligibility to file a Child Victims Act lawsuit

Individuals who suffered sexual abuse as a child in New York may now bring a lawsuit against the individuals or institutions who committed– or failed to prevent– the abuse. The law modifies the statute of limitations going forward. It also grants a one-year period until August 2020, in which anyone who suffered child sexual abuse in New York to bring a suit. It doesn’t matter how long ago it took place.

More than 900 cases have already been filed between August and November 2019. The primary defendants have been religious orders, but they also include Boy Scouts of America, public school districts, hospitals, and the estate of alleged sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein.

Child Victims Act claims timeline

Under the prior law, victims only had until age 21 or 23, with some exceptions, to file a lawsuit. However, now victims will be able to be permitted to file a lawsuit until age 55. A notice of claim is no longer required to file against a public entity; when a notice is required, it can essentially shorten the statute of limitations to as little as 90 days.

The new law also provides a one-year “look back” period that allows those whose claims have been barred by the statute of limitations– to file a lawsuit. Under the look back, potential claimants have until August 14, 2021, to file no matter when the alleged abuse took place.

The deadline for the state to file criminal charges has also been extended, though not as dramatically as civil lawsuits. The criminal statute of limitations has been extended by five years and depending on the type of charge, it may be filed until the victim reaches the age of 25 or 28.

Filing child victims act claim lawsuits in New York

If you have been the victim of child sexual abuse, it is a good idea to consult with a compassionate and experienced sexual abuse lawyer. The new law offers a valuable opportunity to seek justice, but it can be a long, emotionally heavy road. A skilled lawyer can guide you through the process and make sure you meet all of the technicalities.

To proceed in court, your complaint needs to meet the requirements for content, form, and formatting. It needs to be filed in the court with jurisdiction and be accompanied by the correct fee. Once your complaint is filed, you will need to comply with court rules.

Some of those rules include guidelines for communicating with the defendant and any other parties, participating in court conferences, as well as conducting and responding to the fact-finding process known as discovery. In addition, the process could also include hiring expert witnesses, filing important motions, and engaging in negotiations. Though most civil lawsuits settle before trial, you also need to be prepared to take the case to trial if necessary.

The stressful process of litigation can shake the confidence of even the strongest individuals, leading to emotional decisions that can harm your case in the long run. Putting your trust in a competent civil attorney will allow you to participate in the process while letting a professional handle the minefield of technicalities.

Steps in a Child Victims Act lawsuit

Civil lawsuits typically follow this format:

  • Complaint – The complaint is the formal paperwork that you file, with a fee, in the court. It needs to be prepared according to the court rules that dictate the format and legal contents.
  • Response and discussion – Once a complaint is filed, the defendants must file a response that admits or denies each statement in the complaint. The court will also schedule conferences to discuss the litigation goals and timeline.
  • Discovery – Parties request and provide information through a process known as discovery. It can include exchanging written questions, requesting documents, and taking depositions. This process is important because if you do not have the evidence to establish your claim, you cannot succeed.
  • Negotiation or trial – Most cases are resolved through a negotiated settlement, but some proceed to trial.

Hire a Child Victims Act lawyer

No amount of money can undo the pain but having your day in court can provide a sense of closure while helping to protect another generation. If you have been a victim of abuse, speak with a New York City child victims act lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. We offer free consultations and never charge a fee unless we win money on your behalf.

Additional Resources:

  1. CNN, More than 400 lawsuits filed in New York courts as part of new child sex abuse law, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/14/us/new-york-child-victims-law/index.html
  2. New York City Bar, What is the Child Victims Act? https://www.nycbar.org/get-legal-help/article/personal-injury-and-accidents/new-york-child-victims-act/
  3. New York Courts, Child Sex Abuse Cases, https://www.nycourts.gov/CourtHelp/Safety/childSexAbuseCases.shtml