The New York Child Victims Act: It's Meaning For Victims Who Want To File A Lawsuit

Posted on: 12 September 2019

The victims of child sexual abuse have a right to sue their abusers — but those rights are often impaired by laws that limit the time in which they can take action. Since minors can't file a lawsuit on their own, they usually have a short statute of limitations in which to act once they turn age 18.

The New York Child Victims Act changes things for the better. It acknowledges the reality that many victims struggle to come forward with allegations of abuse because of their fear or shame for years — and too many abusers go on without any accountability for their actions.

What Is The New York Child Victims Act?

In mid-August of this year, the Act started a one-year "look back" window that allows victims of any age to bring a personal injury lawsuit against their past abusers, no matter how long ago the abuse happened. Up until the law went into place, victims only had until age 23 to take action.

The Act was prompted by various child abuse scandals that have rocked the nation and the state of New York in specific. Some of those include revelations against a well-known doctor at the Rockefeller University Hospital, acts by certain Boy Scout leaders, and abuse by Catholic priests in dioceses all over.

In addition, once the look-back period has passed, victims will have the right to bring a lawsuit until they are 55 years of age. So far, nearly 600 lawsuits have been filed and thousands more are expected.

How This Could Impact Other Victims Elsewhere?

New York isn't the only state that is grappling with revelations of past abuses. For example, revelations of sexual abuse by coaches at Penn State have shaken many people's belief in the safety of their children with formerly trusted coaches, mentors, and trainers. 

At least 19 different states, including Hawaii, Vermont, New Jersey, and Arizona are considering similar legislation in response to various scandals and revelations. The move is a modern acknowledgment of the psychological toll that sexual abuse takes on victims — and a reflection of the understanding that has been gained about how long it can take someone to understand how they were abused and gather the strength to confront their abuser.

If you live in New York and have been the victim of child sexual abuse, it's time to seek the services of a personal injury attorney. If you live elsewhere, consider making a consultation to discuss your situation.

For more information, contact a local personal injury lawyer.

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