The Adult Survivors Act (ASA) is a new law that aims to help survivors of sexual abuse in New York State seek justice by allowing them to file claims against their abusers even if the statute of limitations has already passed. This law is significant because it will enable survivors to hold their abusers accountable, even if they were too scared or unable to come forward sooner. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse, this law might be able to help. This blog post will take a closer look at the Adult Survivors Act and frequently asked questions we have received.
What is the Adult Survivors Act?
When the ASA became law, it allowed anyone who was sexually assaulted when they were over the age of 18 to file a civil lawsuit against the person who assaulted them, and, when appropriate, any corporations, institutions, government entities, schools or organizations that enabled their abuse. Usually there are strict time limits on all civil suits, but the ASA eliminated the time limits for sexual assault claims so survivors could file their claims regardless of when the abuse happened if they filed during the one year “window” that the law had opened for them. That year expires on November 23, 2023.
Do I want to Relive the Trauma by Starting a Lawsuit?
Our firm wants to acknowledge that the decision about whether to pursue civil litigation is a deeply personal one, and if you are considering filing a lawsuit, you should know that you will need to discuss the details of what happened with your attorneys and you will need to review documents describing what happened, and you will likely need to testify at deposition and possibly at trial. This can be extremely distressing and can cause many people to feel re-traumatized. It’s important that you choose attorneys who are compassionate and who understand the emotional impact of sexual assault and trauma and who will work with you to guide you through the process.
What kind of case can be brought under the ASA?
Cases brought under the ASA are civil cases seeking money damages. Civil cases require the person bringing the lawsuit to prove by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not, that what they have alleged is true.
Many sexual assault victims are hesitant to come forward. This can be the result of many concerns, including the fear that people may not believe them. You should know that attorneys who are experienced in this work understand the effect trauma has and will work with you to present the evidence in the strongest light.
What Types of Evidence are Required to Prove My ASA Case?
Some types of evidence that can help prove ASA cases are medical and/or therapy notes where you discuss what happened, police reports or complaints (including text or email notification) to organizations or individuals that document the abuse, communications with friends or family where you discussed the abuse and photos or other record showing what happened to you.
Can I Protect My Privacy if I File a Lawsuit?
If you are concerned about protecting your privacy, you should know that a plaintiff who is a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or incest can file a motion to proceed using a pseudonym. Courts usually grant these motions and permit plaintiffs to proceed under a pseudonym.
Will I Be Able to Recover Monetary Damages?
We have had many cases against individuals that we were able to settle and obtain payment for our clients on, but the fact is that if the only case is against an individual and that person does not have assets, you may not be able to collect on a judgment or obtain a settlement. There are times when an organization, school, corporation, or other entity may be responsible because they enabled or covered up the abuse or assault. In those situations, there may be insurance available to compensate you for your injuries.
No lawyer can guarantee an outcome, and there is a lot to consider in determining whether you want to come forward if you were the victim of sexual assault. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse as an adult, know that more support and resources are available to you. At Bonina & Bonina, we can help you navigate the complexities of the law and ensure you receive the compensation you need to heal and move forward. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, but please keep the time limit in mind since the window is closing on November 23, 2023.