AB-218: WHAT IT MEANS FOR SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE/ SEXUAL ASSAULT
On October 11, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB-218 into law. This new Act amended Sections 349.1 and 1002 of the CA Code of Civil Procedure. It also amended Section 905 of the CA Government Code relating to Childhood sexual assault and sexual abuse.
Effective January 1st, 2020, this new law gives survivors of child sex abuse a second chance at compensation from their abusers.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse as a minor, and you have thus far been unable to pursue compensation, it may be worthwhile to consult with an experienced California sexual abuse attorney now.
Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC is a pioneer in this area of the law with a TRACK RECORD settling the largest case of its kind for $5,020,000 in 2007 against the Archdiocese of Santa Rosa for priest abuse.
This excellent result was prior to the new liberalization of the law now beginning January 1, 2020. AB-218 may enable you to pursue the compensation and justice you deserve.
What is AB-218?
AB-218 is a state bill that modifies the statute of limitations for those who were sexually abused as children in California. Recent reports have uncovered a history of rampant sexual abuse in numerous well-known organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, Penn State, sporting clubs and the U.S. Olympics often dating back decades.
This bill allows those who may have been previously precluded from filing a claim because of a lapsed statute of limitations and opportunity to file a civil lawsuit against their perpetrator to bring peace of mind, closure and to obtain monetary compensation for their life-altering damages.
What Is the Current Statute of Limitations?
The current statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse survivors are as follows:
Eight years after the age of majority (18 years old), limiting the age to 26 years old or;
Within three years of the date of discovery – the date you discovered that the cause of your psychological injury or illness that occurred after the age of majority was caused by sexual abuse.
The date of discovery is an effective way to extend the statute of limitations for survivors. The clock for statute of limitations starts only when a psychological injury or illness is officially diagnosed as a direct result of past abuse – giving those who have been impacted more time to pursue compensation, but the limit is the later of the two or 26 years old.
Existing law prior to Jan. 1, 2020 prohibits confidentiality provisions within a settlement agreement arising from a claim of childhood sexual abuse.
How Does AB-218 Change the Statute of Limitations?
Effective January 1st, 2020, AB-218 extends the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Survivors now have 22 years from the age of majority to pursue recovery of damages or up to 40 years—increased from 26 years.
Survivors now have five years from the date of discovery, increased from three years.
The new law also provides for Treble Damages or three times the damages against certain defendants when it can be proven that the perpetrator(s) or entity acted to conceal or cover-up their deeds. For example, moving priests known to have molested and sexually assaulted minor victims to other parishes or churches would subject the entity to Treble Damages.
The new law eliminates the onerous requirement that the sexual assault victim would need to first file a governmental tort claim prior to filing a civil lawsuit. The January 1, 2009 artificial requirement date is also eliminated along with the provision abolishing the provision mandating confidentiality provisions in childhood sexual abuse claims.
These changes to the law represent significant increases in the Statute of Limitations from the previous restrictions and subject the perpetrators to increased damages for their victims.
What If I Am Still Past the New Statute of Limitations?
Much like other state bills addressing this same issue, such as the New York Child Victims Act, it recognizes that some survivors’ cases may still exceed the new statute of limitations.
In order to remedy this, AB-218 also approves a three-year window to submit past claims, regardless of statute of limitations. This ensures that anybody who has previously been unable to pursue civil compensation can now have the opportunity.
Who Can Pursue Damages?
Anyone in California who is a survivor of sexual abuse and now referred to as sexual assault as a minor is eligible to file a claim under AB-218. This includes anybody who is a survivor of:
Clergy abuse—The holy Roman Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on this criminal activity.
School abuse—includes public and private schools, Colleges and Universities
Youth sports abuse—The Boy Scouts of America and other high-profile sporting organizations
Youth organization abuse—These includes Sports Camps, Summer Camps.
Hospitals and doctors are included
The new three-year open window makes everyone eligible to file a civil claim, regardless of when the abuse occurred.
The NEW LAW suspends the statute of limitations for three years beginning on Jan 1, 2020—giving victims and survivors of sexual assault of all ages time to bring lawsuits if they wish.
Why is a Lawyer Necessary Now?
If you would like to pursue a civil claim against your abuser, it’s almost universally recommended to first consult with an experienced sexual assault and sexual abuse lawyer before moving forward. There are certain requirements that must be met. For example, every plaintiff 40 years of age or older at the time the action is filed shall file certificates of merit.
WE Are Concerned About Your Privacy–An attorney can help you answer any questions about AB-218 and the newly Amended CA Statutes that you may have. There may be certain restrictions or addendums to the legislation that you may not be aware of for example the ability to name the plaintiffs as DOES to protect the victim’s confidentiality and privacy.
If your abuse occurred years (or even decades) ago, it may be difficult to build a strong case against your abuser. Our experienced legal professional Team understands what it takes to win a case based upon a sexual assault and abuse that happened so long ago and will assist you in gathering all the evidence necessary to win.
AB-218 goes into effect January 1, 2020 – but that doesn’t mean you should wait until then.
Consulting with an attorney now can help you build a case in preparation for the law. Cases often take months or even years to build, so it’s always best to get a good jump start on it – especially considering the surge of lawsuits that may be filed in January 2020 upon the law’s enactment.
If you are filing a claim against an established business or religious institution, a University, Hospital or a large and well-heeled company or famous individual, they likely have a team of top legal experts arguing against your case. An experienced lawyer and in this case, a Team of highly skilled lawyers who have litigated against such organizations before can help you level the playing field, ensuring you have a fighting chance.
Ultimately, a lawyer can be there to act as your unwavering support throughout the time is takes to advocate for you and win your case for the just compensation that you deserve—Start the healing process today and make an appointment to speak with one of our compassionate attorneys. The consultation is completely confidential and Free with no obligation.
Please remember, you are not alone. The abuse you experienced is not your fault. Healing is possible.