How Long Do I Have to Sue for Sexual Abuse in New York State Now?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

New York State’s sexual abuse laws have changed since the beginning of 2019.  Today, victims have opportunities to file claims against their abusers and seek justice for the abuse they faced – but some of these extended deadlines may run out if you don’t file your case quickly.  The institutional sexual abuse victim lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin explain the deadline to file your case in 2019 and 2020 and what you can do to seek justice for sexual abuse you faced as a minor in NY.

Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse in NY in 2019 and 2020

Under New York State law before 2019, victims of sexual abuse that took place while they were minors had until their 23rd birthday to file a claim against the individual that abused them and any institutions that allowed the abuse to happen.  This is quite limiting, as many people do not understand the full extent of what happened to them or work up the courage to speak out until years or decades after the abuse.

Because of this, in 2019, the NY Legislature passed the Child Victim’s Act.  This had two major effects for victims of child sexual abuse looking to seek justice from their abusers: first, the law extended the deadline to file claims for new cases of abuse until the victim turns 55 instead of 23; second, the law effectively suspended the statute of limitations for a year to allow any old claims to be filed.

The extended statute of limitations for child sexual abuse in NY only applies to new cases.  This means that new cases of abuse that took place after this law went into effect can be filed up until the victim’s 55th birthday.  This law is not retroactive, so cases for abuse that took place before 2019 must be filed before the victim turns 23.

The one-year window for sexual assault victims in NY, however, is available for anyone who was abused as a child in New York.  This means that no matter how old your claim is or how long ago the abuse occurred, you can file your claim against the abuser and any institutions that contributed to the abuse, such as in cases of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church in NY, sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America, sexual harassment in schools, and harm from other institutions that allowed abuse to occur.

This one-year window runs from August 14, 2019, through August 14, 2020.  Talk to a sexual harassment lawyer immediately if you think you have a case, because once this window closes, you may not be able to file your case.

Adult Claims for Sexual Abuse in NY

Adults have a different statute of limitations for sexual abuse and sexual assault they faced as adults.  Because adults are better able to understand what happened to them and file claims compared to children, these cases must typically be filed within 3 years of the assault.  Talk to a lawyer for help with your case and help understanding whether you might be entitled to an extended deadline to file under the Child Victim’s Act if you were still under 18 when the abuse occurred.

Damages for Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse in New York State

Victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse by priests and other adults in positions of trust or authority may wait years or even decades before coming forward.  In many cases, the abuse they faced occurred because institutions like churches or schools worked to cover up the abuse.  In many cases, this can result in substantial expenses and damages as well as additional punitive damages that the abuser and the institution need to pay because of their coverups.

Victims may need medical attention and counseling or therapy to deal with the effects of the assault or abuse they underwent.  Victims of childhood sexual abuse may have suffered injuries that they needed treatment for.  However, treatment for the mental health effects of abuse is far more common.  Victims of childhood trauma often have PTSD, depression, and other problems that they need extensive therapy to deal with.  Often, it is only because of therapy that these survivors find the strength to come forward and confront their abusers in the first place.  The costs of medical and mental health treatment can all be claimed as part of a lawsuit.

To the extent that your physical or mental health status affects your ability to work, you may also be able to claim damages for lost wages you faced because of the abuse.  In addition, damages for the physical and mental pain and suffering of the event can be claimed.  This can include damages for mental and emotional distress and anguish.

Many of the institutions associated with child sexual abuse have a history of failing to properly investigate claims of abuse or actively covering up abuse, moving abusers to new communities, and allowing others to be subjected to abuse because of their negligence.  In some cases, this can result in punitive damages against the institution, which the court may be able to award in your case.

Call Our Attorneys for NY State Sexual Abuse Victims Today

At The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, we work to help victims of childhood sexual abuse seek compensation from their abusers and the institutions that worked to cover up abuse or allowed them to face harm.  To schedule a free legal consultation and learn more about your potential claim in a free, confidential consultation, contact our law office today at (814) 826-3586.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.