Sexual abuse victims will now have considerably more time and opportunity to file suit and pursue their rights. A statute of limitations sets legal timelines within which a person can bring legal action against a defendant.
Historically, New Jersey’s statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims was two years, and for those who were victims as children a claim or lawsuit was required to be filed before the victim reached the age of 21. Yet rarely are child or adult victims psychologically prepared to make a public claim within such a short time period.
Recently, widespread media coverage of ongoing sexual abuse involving the clergy, the boy scouts, and other large institutions has spurred legislators to revoke New Jersey’s old sexual abuse statute of limitations of 2 years or the age of 21 and replace it with a new one. With an eye toward providing a new avenue for victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice, Governor Murphy has signed legislation S-477 that goes into effect on December 1, 2019 (link to story) which will considerably expand the time period available for both child and adult victims to pursue legal ramifications for sexual abuse.
Most notably, victims of child sexual abuse can now sue their abusers up until they turn 55, or within seven years of their realization that the abuse caused them harm. Victims previously barred from suing their abusers and the institutions that protected them due to the old statute of limitations will have two years to file lawsuits seeking damages. Those who were sexually assaulted as adults can also file lawsuits.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse that occurred when you were either a child or an adult, you may now be able to file a claim, even if you were previously barred by the old statute of limitations. If you are a victim of child or adult sexual abuse, as of December 1, 2019 you are permitted to file a claim:
- Up until you turn age 55, or
- Within 7 years of your realization that the abuse caused harm, or
- Within 2 years of December 1, 2019
If you are over age 55 and realized harm from the abuse more than 7 years ago, you may still file a claim within 2 years of December 1, 2019.
Notably, this legislation also abolishes immunity typically afforded to nonprofit corporations, societies or associations organized exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes and their employees.
The attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble proudly represent both child and adult victims of sexual abuse against any culpable institutions covered by this new legislation. Contact us today if you think you may have a claim.