New Legislation In New York: The Child Victims Act

New Legislation In New York: The Child Victims Act

On January 28, 2019, the New York State Assembly voted on groundbreaking legislation, entitled the NEW YORK CHILD VICTIMS ACT, which would change the landscape for many future civil and criminal charges stemming from sexual abuse now barred by the statute of limitations.  It is now up to the Governor to sign the Act into law.

What is the Child Victims Act and what impact will it have?

First, the Act would extend the statute of limitations for alleged victims of sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against their accused by allowing victims to sue in civil court up until the victim turns 55-years-old.  The previous limit was 23 years old.

The Act would also create what is called a one year “look back window” allowing those who failed to sue in the past to file new civil claims.

Next, the Act would extend the Statute of Limitations for alleged victims of sexual abuse by allowing them to pursue felony criminal charges up until they turn 28 years old and misdemeanor charges up until the age of 25. The previous limit was 23 years of age.  

Further, the Act eliminates the 90-day notice of claim requirement for bringing civil litigation against public institutions, including public schools, government offices, and agencies.

While there has been significant support for the legislation, some detractors of the new law are concerned that by extending the statute of limitations, it will open the floodgates for civil litigation, potentially overwhelming the courts.  There is also a significant concern in criminal cases where a defendant’s liberties are at stake. For example, the lapse in time between an alleged crime and an arrest can greatly impact the ability of a defendant to find evidence from years before that might potentially exonerate him.   Thus, this new legislation exposes potential defendants to waves of litigation on both sides of the criminal and civil spectrums.

Also left exposed by the new law are insurance providers who can now be brought into the civil litigation.  These insurance companies and insurance advocacy groups lobbied aggressively against the law in Albany but were unsuccessful. One of their main concerns brought light to what is known as the “look-back provision,” which allows claims previously time-barred or dismissed to be “alive” again.  That means that complainants can now seek pay-outs from defendants that they were previously unable to go after and can, therefore, target the various insurance groups.

As we wait for Governor Cuomo to sign this new legislation into law, parties on both sides of the courtroom are preparing for its potential effects. If you or a loved one are impacted by this Act, don’t hesitate to speak with an experienced defense attorney. The Law Offices of Julie Rendelman regularly handles these types of offenses in the New York area and will aggressively fight on your behalf.