Adult Survivors Act
Sexual abuse is a heinous crime that can leave long-lasting emotional scars. The sexual abuse lawyers at our firm can help you get justice through the Adult Survivor Act. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.
Medical malpractice attorneys Bradley Zimmerman and Chris Nyberg discuss lawsuit

New York Adult Survivors Act: Understanding Your Rights

Sexual assault is an incredibly traumatic experience, and it can often take years for survivors to feel comfortable sharing their story. Until recently, filing a sexual assault lawsuit had to be done within a few years after the incident at most, depending on the assault.

However, this May, New York state legislators and Governor Hochul passed the Adult Survivors Act (“ASA”) to temporarily remove this time constraint.

The Adult Survivors Act gives survivors of adulthood sexual abuse a temporary one-year window to bring claims that otherwise would have been barred by statute of limitations defense.

The one-year look-back window for ASA claims is anticipated to open on November 24, 2022 and close on November 24, 2023; however, there is a possibility that the exact deadline will change due to Thanksgiving holidays.

Plaintiffs will be allowed to file civil claims based on sexual abuse or assault during this one-year window, regardless of when the abuse or assault originally occurred. Claims filed will also receive preferential treatment in the court.

The Adult Survivors Act is modeled after the Child Victims Act of 2019 (“CVA”), which provided a two-year window for plaintiffs to file civil claims for sexual abuse or assault that occurred while they were under the age of 18. Close to 10,000 lawsuits were filed under the CVA, while the look-back window was open.

It is important to recognize that healing from abuse is not a linear process, and the Adult Survivors Act gives survivors the opportunity to file suit against past abusers to hold them accountable.

The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm supports and encourages you to come forward if you are a victim of sexual assault, rape, incest, or sexual abuse. Know that you are not alone, and our experienced legal team will make sure you get the representation you deserve.

We can help when the unimaginable happens.

Contact our offices at (212) 869-3500 for a free and strictly confidential consultation. 

What is the Adult Survivors Act?

The Adult Survivors Act creates a one-year window for survivors of adult sexual assault to file civil claims against their abusers regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. The legislation creates a temporary period for the revival of otherwise time-barred claims arising out of sexual offenses committed against people who were 18 or older at the time of the conduct.

When does the Adult Survivors Act become effective?

The Adult Survivors Act becomes effective on November 24, 2022 and closes on November 24, 2023. However, there is a possibility that the exact deadline will change due to Thanksgiving holidays. It is important to consult with experienced sexual abuse attorneys to be kept apprised of the law.

What does the Adult Survivors Act change? 

The Adult Survivors Act removes the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases, so survivors can file suit against their abusers regardless of how long ago the incident occurred. This temporary change recognizes that survivors may experience difficulty reporting their abuse for many years – sometimes decades – due to threats of retaliation and violence, intimidation, or resurfacing trauma.

How does the statute of limitations impact my sexual assault lawsuit?

Claims that were dismissed or could not be brought because of statute of limitations concerns can now be brought and revived during this one-year look-back window. After the window closes in November 2023, those claims will likely not be revived again. The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm stands by and encourages victims of sexual assault to consider filing claims while the Adult Survivors Act is in place.

What happens after the one-year window set in the Adult Survivors Act?

After the one-year window expires in November of 2023, survivors of sexual assault will be subject to the NY statute of limitations and including time constraints. Typically, victims have 3 years from the date of incident to bring negligence claims against the agencies or individuals that negligently allowed the assault to occur.

However, there are many exceptions to this general rule. For example, notices must be filed within 90 days of the incident if a municipal or state agency was involved. In addition, intentional torts such as assault and battery claims under New York law only have 1 year statute of limitations. Read more about the statute of limitations for sexual abuse here.

What allegations can you bring under an Adult Survivors Act lawsuit? What sexual crimes apply under the Adult Survivors Act?

The Adult Survivors Act applies to sexual crimes set forth in New York Penal Law including workplace sexual harassment, forcible touching, sexual misconduct, rape, incest and sexual abuse.

Common types of sexual violence as described by New York Penal Law

Workplace Sexual Harassment

Workplace Sexual Harassment occurs in the workplace and can involve superiors or co-workers sexually harassing someone.

  • The harassment can take many forms, including sexual gestures, sexually offensive remarks, coerced sex acts, etc.

Forcible Touching

Forcible Touching occurs when the perpetrator either forcibly touches (squeezing, grabbing, pinching) another person’s sexual or intimate body parts for sexual gratification, or degrades and abuses the person.

Oral & Anal Sexual Misconduct

Oral & Anal Sexual Misconduct occurs when there is no consent, and a person is coerced into perform oral or anal sex.

  • There is no consent because the victim is underage, has a mental disability, is under custody of a law enforcement official, or cannot otherwise consent

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct occurs when a person does not obtain consent before engaging in sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, or anal sexual conduct.

  • This type of sexual violence occurs when a superior or person of authority takes advantage of another person:
  • i.e., relationships between doctors and patients, teachers and students, employers and employees, priests/ministers, etc.

Rape

Rape occurs when the perpetrator engages in sexual intercourse or penetration without the person’s consent or with a person who cannot consent due to mental incapacity or mental disability.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse occurs when the perpetrator makes sexual contact with another individual without that person’s consent.

  • Touching the individual’s intimate or sexual body parts for sexual gratification, including molestation or another sexual act.

It is important to note that sexual abuse can occur from anyone–a family member, family friend, friend, teacher, minister, or stranger. Sexual violence can also happen to anyone, regardless of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or sexual orientation.

Can I sue institutions or employers of the person who assaulted me?

Yes, employers, institutions or organizations, and property owners can all be held liable in a sexual assault lawsuit, depending on the factual circumstances.

  • Employers can be held vicariously liable when they fail to prevent their employees from committing foreseeable acts of violence.
  • Institutions or organizations (e.g., church organization or children’s club) can be held liable through a negligence claim when they knew of an alleged sexual assault or its threat but failed to act.
  • Institutions or organizations can be held liable for negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and/or monitoring in their employment practice.
  • Property owners or landlords can be held liable in a premise liability suit because they have a duty to maintain safe premises and to prevent foreseeable acts of violence.

In fact, the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm has experience successfully holding institutions liable for being complicit in sexual misconduct and abuse.

In June of 2022, attorney Jaehyun Oh and Bradley Zimmerman obtained the largest publicly available settlement against the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the nation on behalf of three inmates who were sexually assaulted at the now-closed Metropolitan Correctional Center in new York.

The suit was brought not only against their abuser but also against the various officers and the Government agency that looked the other way while the abuse was occurring.

What damages can you recover in an Adult Survivors Act lawsuit?

Under the Adult Survivors Act, victims are afforded the opportunity to seek full remedies including economic and compensatory damages as well as reimbursement for attorneys’ fees. Damages include medical expenses (hospital visits, counseling, therapy), pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of wages if you could not attend work, etc.

It is important to seek counsel of experienced sexual abuse lawyers to help identify these damages, both general and special.

Can prisoners file suit using the Adult Survivors Act?

Yes. Anyone who was over the age of 18 at the time of the assault, and has claims under New York State law, is eligible to file a civil claim against their abuser without being subject to constraints from the statute of limitations during the one-year look-back window.

How do I file a claim while the Adult Survivors Act is in effect? Do I need a lawyer to file a civil lawsuit?

While it is possible to bring a pro se lawsuit, strategies and advocacy of experienced attorneys make a substantial difference in the outcome of civil lawsuits. Moreover, having an attorney would lessen the survivor’s burden in participating in the lawsuit and interacting with the opposing parties and their counsel. At the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, our experienced sexual assault attorneys will help guide you through this process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

What type of evidence do I need to file a sexual assault lawsuit in civil court?

To succeed in a personal injury claim or civil law suit, you must prove the following:

  • The assailant sexually assaulted you;
  • You suffered damages as a result of the suit; and
  • The defendant intentionally or negligently caused you injuries. A person or entity can also be liable for negligence when a duty of or care was oweed but was breached, creating a situation where the assailant cold sexually assault you.

These elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning more likely than not. The standard of proof is lower than in a criminal case where the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt the defendant committed sexual assault.

Should I wait until November to file a sexual assault lawsuit?

Although you do need to wait until November 2022 to file suit, the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm strongly encourages you to speak with a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss the one-year window. In addition, there usually is extensive factual investigation that needs to occur before the filing of a lawsuit, especially for cases that occurred in the distant past, and therefore, it is important to contact an attorney to begin the investigation.

Should I file a claim while the Adult Survivors Act is in effect?

Yes, if you or a loved one is a survivor of adult sexual assault, the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm strongly encourages you to contact an attorney to see if you qualify for compensation or other legal remedies.

The Adult Survivors Act recognizes that survivors of sexual assault often can’t file suit immediately due to threats of retaliation, violence, intimidation, or resurfacing trauma that can last years after the assault.

By removing time constraints for sexual assault lawsuits, the Adult Survivors Act gives survivors an opportunity to hold their abusers accountable and get the compensation they deserve.

“Those who have had justice denied to them as a result of New York’s formerly insufficient statute of limitations should be given the opportunity to seek civil redress against their abusers or their abuser’s enablers in a court of law.” - New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, sponsor of the Adult Survivors Act

Discuss your claim with a New York Adult Survivors Act lawyer today

The Child Victims Act of 2019 saw tremendous success, with more than 9,000 lawsuits filed In New York, and other states have also enacted similar statutes. The Adult Survivors Act plays an important role in supporting survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

The New York Adult Survivors Act lawyers at Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm support and encourage you to come forward if you are a victim of sexual assault, rape, incest, or sexual abuse. Know that you are not alone, and our experienced legal team will make sure you get the representation you deserve.

Contact our offices at (212) 869-3500 for a free and strictly confidential consultation. 

We can help when the unimaginable happens.