New York Adult Survivors Act Lawyer

If you survived sexual abuse or assault many years ago, you might have thought there was nothing you could do now to hold your assailant accountable. Until recently, that was unfortunately true.

However, a new law will allow sexual abuse survivors who were over 18 when they were victimized an additional year to sue. The law takes effect in November 2022.

If you suffered sexual assault or abuse when you were a legal adult but did not pursue civil remedies at the time, you could do so now with help from a dedicated attorney. A New York Adult Survivors Act lawyer could explain your legal options and help you get justice, no matter how long ago the incident happened.

Criminal Remedies for Sexual Crimes are Often Inadequate

Sexual assault, sexual abuse, and many other forms of sexual contact without consent are crimes. If the victim reports them and a prosecutor successfully presents a case to a jury, the accused could face a jail sentence and registration as a sex criminal. However, a prosecutor must convince every juror of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Meeting this high standard can be challenging, especially if there were no witnesses to the assault.

Sadly, fewer than 40 percent of sexual assaults result in reports to law enforcement, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. According to the same source, only 10 percent of on-campus sexual assaults are reported. A victim might have multiple reasons for not reporting a sexual assault:

  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Not having a clear memory of the incident
  • Wanting to forget about it
  • Belief that the criminal justice system is unfair to sexual assault victims
  • Not having the support to cope with the fallout from an assault

When an assault victim does not make a report, there are no consequences to the perpetrator. If an assault victim reports the incident, but the prosecutor does not pursue the case, or the assailant is acquitted, the victim might feel that they suffered more from making the report than the criminal did.

Civil Remedies for Sexual Assault

Civil lawsuits are another way to hold someone responsible for a sexual assault. If there was a criminal conviction, the victim could use that evidence to bolster a civil claim. However, even if a victim did not report the incident at the time, a New York attorney representing adult survivors still could bring a civil claim against the assailant.

The person bringing the lawsuit (the victim/plaintiff) must convince a majority of jurors by a preponderance of evidence that the assailant/defendant sexually assaulted or abused them. The standard requires that most jurors believe that the defendant assaulted or abused the plaintiff more likely than not. If the plaintiff wins the case, they receive monetary damages.

Damages could cover the plaintiff’s medical expenses, including all mental health treatment and support required due to the defendant’s actions. If the lingering effects of the assault have limited the plaintiff’s earning capacity, damages could pay for the decrease in their earnings. Damages also could reimburse a plaintiff’s physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any negative impact the assault had on the plaintiff’s life.

How the Adult Survivors Act Helps

Every state has statutes of limitation that define the timeframe for people to bring lawsuits. New York’s statute of limitations for civil suits seeking damages for sexual assault was previously three years. This meant a victim had to file a lawsuit within three years of the incident.

The short timeframe prevented many victims from bringing lawsuits against their assailants. People who had suppressed memories of the assault or needed more time to come to terms with it enough to bring actions were time-barred from seeking justice. The Adult Survivors Act, which the New York Governor signed on May 24, 2022, offers those victims some relief.

The law will go into effect on November 24, 2022. On that date, anyone who suffered a sexual assault or sexual abuse at any time could bring a civil lawsuit seeking damages against the perpetrator. The law opens a one-year window in which someone who never brought a civil lawsuit against an offender, or who brought a lawsuit that was dismissed because of the statute of limitations, can file a lawsuit regardless of the date when the assault occurred. However, the plaintiff must have been age 18 or older at the time of the assault to take advantage of the change in the law. A New York attorney could review an individual’s case and determine whether the Survivors Act will benefit them.

Pursue Justice with a New York Adult Survivors Act Attorney

If you were sexually violated before November 2019 and have recently recognized the impact the incident had on you, the law offers you a brief opportunity to pursue monetary damages from the person who harmed you. The Adult Survivors Act allows you to file a civil suit against your assailant even if the incident happened decades ago.

It can take a lifetime to come to terms with a sexual assault and recognize how it impacted your life. It is understandable if you were not ready to pursue a sexual assault claim until years after the incident. The new law gives you one year, until November 24, 2023, to file a lawsuit for monetary damages.

You deserve legal support and a sense of justice from your assailant, no matter when the abuse or assault occurred. Call a New York Adult Survivors Act lawyer today to get the dedicated help you need.

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