For survivors of childhood sexual assault, it sometimes takes years — or even decades — to fully realize that they suffered abuse. Thanks to a new bill passed by the California state legislature and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsome, victims now have a longer period of time allowed before filing a lawsuit. In this post, I will explain the new law and how it affects individuals in California — including people here in the San Diego area — who suffered such harm in their past.
California Assembly Bill No. 218
Previously, survivors of childhood sexual abuse in California were required to file a lawsuit by the time they reach 26 years of age, or within three years of realizing they had suffered the abuse when they were a child. According to a new California law, the statute of limitations on filing a childhood sexual assault lawsuit has been increased. Now, as a result of these changes, the window to file a lawsuit has been widened. The details of the changes to the statute of limitations include:
- Survivors may now file lawsuits up until they are 40 years of age
- Adults who have recently discovered or realized abuse they suffered as children have five years to sue
- Abuse survivors have a three-year window starting in January 2020 during which abuse claims that have already passed the previous statute of limitations period in which to pursue a lawsuit
- If it is determined that any organization or public entities attempted to cover up the abuse allegations, the court is allowed to award triple the amount of damages
These new elements of state law have been met with praise from abuse survivors and child safety advocates and were referenced across social media under the hashtag “#AB218.” The new bill, which officially takes effect on January 1, 2020, provides new opportunities for victims of childhood abuse to take action and seek justice for the pain they have suffered.