It is an unfortunate fact that many people who experience some kind of sexual violence never received justice from the criminal courts. The average individual who experiences sexual abuse from someone they know may fear going to the police to report what happened.
Those who do speak up often encounter professionals that don’t understand how to properly handle the needs of victims, which often leads to criminal cases falling apart before they ever reach court. The sad truth is that only a tiny fraction of those who commit acts of sexual violence ever see the inside of a courtroom, let alone a jail cell.
For years, child survivors of sexual violence and predation have had the option of filing a civil lawsuit against the criminal that harmed them physically and psychologically. New York has now created a similar statute helping adult survivors who may have thought their chance for justice had already passed.
How the adult survivors act helps those harmed by others
Although New York does have personal injury laws that allow people to file lawsuits against those who commit crimes, there is a strict statute of limitations on those lawsuits. The Adult Survivors Act effectively creates a new opportunity for those outside the statute of limitations but who have actionable cases involving sexual violence.
As of November 24, 2022, a one-time, single-year window to initiate litigation opened. Adults who experienced some kind of sexual violence that is currently outside of the statute of limitations can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator until November 24th, 2023 to seek financial compensation.
Such lawsuits may now be the only opportunity for justice if yours have passed and there is no longer any physical evidence of a crime. While prosecuting the offender may no longer be a realistic goal, there may be enough corroborating evidence of the abuse or of its fallout to secure compensation in the civil courts. The lower standard of evidence necessary for civil claims can beneficial for those struggling to overcome sexual abuse at the hands of another.
Those hoping to take advantage of this limited opportunity for justice will need to act quickly. Talking to a lawyer about your options for a personal injury claim under the Adult Survivors Act could help you hold someone accountable for their prior violation of your rights.