How To File A Lawsuit Under The NY Adult Survivor Act
New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed this bill into law. As noted on the governor’s website, the statute creates a one-year “lookback window” to help adult sexual assault survivors pursue the justice they could not find in the past. As of November 24, 2022, survivors who were at least 18 years of age when sexually assaulted will now have an additional year to file their lawsuits against those responsible for their abuse.
This statute reminds many of New York’s progressive Child Victim’s Act; that law made it possible for those abused as young children to seek justice back in 2019. The Office of Court Administration states that over 10,000 cases were filed after that “lookback” window was opened.
The following information answers key questions you may have regarding the types of sexual assault offenses covered by the New York Adult Survivor Act (ASA), the short- and long-term injuries that are recognized and covered, and the parties who can be sued.
Since preparing one of these cases can take considerable time, our law firm urges all survivors to contact their New York City sexual assault lawyer soon. We can then work together, gathering all the necessary evidence and building a strong lawsuit – ready for filing later this year.
Questions you may have about filing a lawsuit under the NY Adult Survivor Act (ASA)
What are the most common types of sexual assault offenses that are covered by the NY Adult Survivor Act (ASA)
A: Sexual abuse, rape, forcible touching, and other forms of sexual misconduct. Other specific types of inappropriate and actionable behaviors are set forth in the statute.
Which New York Penal law sections define most or all of the injuries covered by the ASA?
Which people or institutions can be sued under this new law?
A: It’s usually the individual who committed the sexual assault — and sometimes – that person’s employer who harbored the abuser and failed to take timely and appropriate action to stop the known abuse. Many large companies and corporations are starting to worry about being named in some of the workplace-related ASA (Adult Survivor Act) lawsuits.
Can I bring a lawsuit if I was abused by a doctor at my university?
A: Yes, assuming you were 18 years or older when the assault occurred. CBS News recently interviewed one of the most vocal survivor advocates for ASA passage. Marissa Hoechstetter told CBS that she is among about 230 women who claim they were sexually assaulted by a Columbia University OBGYN. Ms. Hoechstetter says that this abuse took place when she was pregnant with twins just over 11 years ago.
I was sexually abused by my boss, over 30 years ago when I was in my early twenties. Can I sue him or is that too long ago?
A: You should be able to file a lawsuit. Like all others pursuing justice under the ASA, your success will depend on the quality of the evidence you have to support your claim.
Can I bring a lawsuit if my employer who often overlooked sexual abuse complaints made me sign an arbitration agreement? It said that all future allegations of sexual abuse or harassment would have to be handled in an arbitration hearing.
A: Yes, you can still file an ASA lawsuit in court. This is partly due to a bill that President Biden signed into law on March 3, 2022. The retroactive federal statute Ending of Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 now prevents the use or enforcement of such biased and restrictive contractual provisions.
What types of injuries can serve as the basis of a claim under the ASA?
A: A plaintiff need only prove that s/he was sexually abused or assaulted by the perpetrator and that due to that incident, one or more of the injuries listed in the two sections below have required treatment.
Can nursing home residents bring charges against any employee who has sexually abused them? Also, can you sue if you are a resident and you were raped by another resident?
A: In general, these residents can sue. However, they will need compelling evidence and support for their claims since patients suffering from any type of dementia or Alzheimer’s may not be as readily believed as those without such limitations. If the nursing home administrator is failing to provide proper safety to everyone, a lawsuit might be possible if another resident has sexually assaulted you. The other resident may or may not have any funds for you to recover.
Which groups or individuals worked the hardest to defeat this legislation?
A: While various groups voiced opposition, Catholic church members and adults connected to one or more children’s scouting groups were quick to express their concerns.
What may be the biggest hurdles to overcome in cases involving long-ago workplace sexual harassment or abuse claims?
A: If the business no longer exists, you may have difficulty obtaining adequate records to help you prove that person you would like to sue served in a position of power over you – or that the employers were negligent in protecting you against the abuser or perpetrator.
Will I need medical records to help substantiate my claim of past sexual abuse? Can a lawsuit be barred if I did not notify the police and ask them to press charges?
A: While filing a charge with the police shortly after a rape or sexual abuse can provide convincing evidence to support the claim, it is not a requirement. Likewise, a medical record indicating exams and lab tests after rape can also prove extremely useful. However, they are not required in most cases. The exact type of evidence required will often depend on the setting where the sexual assault took place. It could prove helpful if you reported the incident to a therapist, family member, or close friend – particularly if that person is willing to testify on your behalf.
Can I file a lawsuit based on incest under the Adult Survivor Act?
How to document physical injuries suffered due to sexual assault or abuse
If many years have passed, you will rarely have any visible scars remaining. However, if you were examined shortly after the rape, one or more of the following injuries may have been noted in your medical records.
- Genital or extragenital scars or lacerations
- Bruising to various parts of the body, especially when women are raped. They statistically suffer far more rapes than men.
- HIV infection
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Bleeding, unrelated to menstruation
- Sexually transmitted diseases. These can include syphilis, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and chlamydial infections.
- Bruising around the neck. Also, stab wounds, especially if the attacker was a stranger
- Extreme body soreness and swelling
While this is not intended to be a comprehensive list, it does include many of the frequently discovered results of rape.
How to document the psychological/social injuries resulting from sexual assault/abuse
Being able to testify about your most troubling recovery issues can help strengthen your case. If you have medical or psychotherapy billing records (or can obtain copies), these can prove particularly useful.
- Did you pursue psychotherapy? For many victims, long-term therapy is crucial to treating their depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues.
- Was PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder ever diagnosed? Many survivors must battle anxiety, stress, and fear after being sexually abused. Psychotherapy is often crucial to recovery. Survivors often benefit from learning how to meditate and practice mindfulness.
- Did you go for prolonged periods of time avoiding the formation of any new intimate relationships?
- Were you prescribed any drugs for depression, anxiety, or other related disorders?
- Did you develop any eating disorders after the rape or other abuse incident?
- Have you suffered any panic attacks? Depending on where you were when the sexual assault or other offensive contact took place, you may have had difficulty returning to work or to the building where this offense took place.
- Did you become addicted to any substance abuse? The desire to break free of painful memories can be overwhelming. Many survivors trace their addictions back to the time when they were first sexually assaulted — or otherwise forcibly touched or abused.
- Did you develop an erratic work history? Many survivors are so distraught that they must stop working to fully heal.
- Have you begun any self-harm activities? It’s important to never wrongfully blame yourself for the attack. Some survivors physically harm their bodies to take their minds off the actual rape events. Friends and family members should remain in close contact since self-harm often takes place in secret, making it hard for people to evaluate how well their loved one is coping.
- Have you been diagnosed with any sleep disorder? While some abuse victims have trouble falling asleep, others may wake up from nightmares and become afraid to close their eyes again. A sleep sedative may be useful – at least for a little while.
- Have you experienced any suicidal thoughts and feelings? Always reach out for help if these continue for more than a few days at a time. It is common to consider suicide – but you must reach out for help. If you are feeling this way again now, be sure to contact someone for additional treatment. Sliding-scale therapy fees can almost always be found.
- Did you require any inpatient psychiatric treatment? Many people often find that several weeks of inpatient treatment can help them recover more effectively. If you required this type of treatment to heal from your sexual trauma, there’s no reason to feel ashamed. In fact, these types of records can help us clearly demonstrate how difficult it was for you to heal from your sexual assault or related abuse.
If you suffered a sexual assault or related sexual abuse since you turned age 18, you should seriously consider contacting our New York City sexual assault law firm. We will carefully investigate all the facts of your civil case, review any medical or psychological treatment records you may have, and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to you. We want every client to fully recover for all lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other losses.