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Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatizing events anyone can live through. The physical, emotional, and psychological damage associated with sexual assault or harassment can last forever. Every year, thousands of men, women, and children are abused in the United States. It is natural to expect these victims to come forward and bring their abusers to justice. However, sexual abuse victims are often afraid of the social stigma that comes with these traumatic events. For this reason, many potential claims were left in the past due to the statute of limitations. Can sexual abuse victims revive old claims and bring their abusers to justice? Our New Jersey institutional sexual abuse victim attorney from The Law Office of Andrew Shubin invites you to keep reading as we discuss New Jersey’s new sexual abuse lookback window law.
What is New Jersey’s Sexual Abuse Lookback Window Law?
Sexual abuse cases happen more often than most people would expect. While sexual abuse can happen against any gender and age, women, elderly adults, and children are more propense to these attacks. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), during 2018, 734,630 people were raped in the U.S. Sadly, coming forward and shedding light on their experience can be difficult for many sexual abuse victims. While many cases are reported to the police and are dealt with, many other cases go unreported by the victims.
One of the reasons why sexual abuse victims don’t come forward is because they fear the social stigma that comes from these cases. Many men, women, and children are forced to live conflicting lives due to the challenging issues carried over after a traumatic event such as sexual harassment, rape, or sexual assault in New Jersey. Unfortunately, many sexual abuse victims in New Jersey tried to do something about their situation, but the law prevented them from bringing their abusers to justice.
The statute of limitations is a legal timeline that determines the time you have to file your claim – whether civil or criminal. The purpose behind the statute of limitations is to promote a timely, reasonable resolution of a claim, and avoid a perpetual cause of action against a potential defendant. This legal statute was responsible for setting a short time in which victims could speak up to bring their abusers to justice.
For instance, before the new law – which we will discuss later – child sexual abuse victims would have two years from the moment they turned eighteen (18) to file their claims against their abuser. Under these – and other – circumstances, the statute of limitations failed to consider difficult challenges sexual abuse victims go through, such as memory repression, which could take years to overcome.
Fortunately, the “lookback window period law” changed all that. The legislation supporting the changes in the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims came into fruition after long, unresolved issues involving sexual abuse of boy scouts and victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. Under this new legislation, sexual abuse victims can come forward even if they are older adults.
How Does the Lookback Window Period Law Help Sexual Abuse Victims in New Jersey?
The new legislation – S477 – increases the chances of sexual abuse victims to file civil claims against their abusers. It creates a two-year window to revive claims of sexual misconduct or abuse that have faded due to the statute of limitations. This is particularly beneficial for those who were victims of sexual misconduct or abuse during their childhood. Minor victims only had two years to file their claim(s) from the moment they turned 18 – as mentioned above. Now, the law allows childhood sexual abuse victims to revive their claim(s) until they turn 55, or within seven years from the moment they became aware of the abuse – whichever occurs later. This seven-year period also applies to any other victim of sexual abuse, regardless of their age.
For many years, several organizations and institutions were immune from lawsuits and claims related to sexual offenses. For this reason, many sexual abuse victims could never bring their claims and hold the liable parties accountable for their wrongdoing. Today, New Jersey allows these victims to file their claims against many commonly exempted institutions, including non-profit organizations. In other words, under the new law, non-profit organizations – and other organizations – can be held liable for hiring and keeping a sexual predator as an employee.
Additionally, under new amendments to the New Jersey’s Tort Claims Act, public entities such as public schools and non-profit private schools can now be brought to justice in sexual abuse claims under the lookback window law – even if they are unaware, such dormant claims exist or existed.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me in a Sexual Abuse Lookback Window Lawsuit in New Jersey?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, thousands of people are victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. every year. Many of these victims can find it extremely difficult to come forward and tell their stories. While it is understandable to feel apprehensive about the process, filing a lawsuit against your abuser(s) might help you bring closure to your particular situation. You can take the first step by contacting a New Jersey sexual abuse victim attorney.
Going through a lawsuit can be an overwhelming and challenging process, especially if you have never been part of one. There are many moving parts in sexual abuse claims, which requires knowledge, skill, and experience. An attorney can help you with essential tasks such as gathering evidence and building a strategy that can help you fight for the compensation you deserve as a sexual abuse victim.
Institutional Sexual Abuse Victim Lawyer Offering Free Consultations in New Jersey
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse in New Jersey, we can help. The new lookback window period law can be your best opportunity at bringing your abusers to justice. Our sexual abuse victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin can help you file your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve. Thanks to our many years of experience and dedication, we have developed the necessary skills to hold the liable parties accountable for your losses. For more information about sexual abuse victims one year lookback window lawsuits in NY or NJ, call our law offices today and schedule your free, confidential consultation. Our phone number is (814) 826-3586.