Could a New Law Help New Jersey Survivors of Child Abuse Sue Their Abusers?

Posted on January 30, 2020 at 8:00am by

Survivors of child abuse in New Jersey now have more time to file claims against their abusers. This year, S477 will go into effect. This law extends the statute of limitations in civil actions for sexual abuse claims. This law came after a shocking report exposed more than 100 New Jersey priests who were accused of sex abuse in the state. New Jersey is the 11th state to pass this type of statute of limitations bill.

How will this new law protect child abuse survivors? How long do abuse survivors now have to file a lawsuit? How can you file a child sex abuse lawsuit in New Jersey?

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit against a negligent or abusive party. In civil claims, the amount of time an abuse survivor has to file a civil lawsuit differs from any criminal statutes of limitations. A civil lawsuit allows an abuse survivor to file a lawsuit seeking damages for the pain and suffering and abuse they suffered. Survivors of sexual assault and abuse can choose to pursue justice in both the criminal system and the civil system.

For decades, survivors of sexual assault and abuse only had two years to pursue litigation. A survivor of child sexual abuse only had until the age of 20 to file a civil claim. For many, this denied them the ability to hold their perpetrators accountable. For years, advocates wrote letters and petitioned for this law to change so that survivors of child sex abuse could obtain the justice they deserved.

In 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed S477 into law. This expanded the state’s civil statute of limitations for sexual assault. This gave sex abuse survivors more time to file a lawsuit. Now, they have seven years to file a lawsuit against their abusers. Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse have until they are 55 years old or seven years after they first became aware of their trauma. The law also created a two-year lookback window. This allows survivors to file lawsuits that were originally barred under the previous statute of limitations. This window runs until November 30, 2021.

How Can You File a New Jersey Civil Lawsuit Against Your Abuser?

If you are a survivor of child sex abuse, it is important to speak to a qualified and experienced injury lawyer. Your lawyer can help you navigate the challenges of filing a civil suit in New Jersey. To start, you must determine who you will file a claim against. In many cases, you can file a civil lawsuit against your abuser as well as any institution or individuals involved in aiding your abuser.

It is important to know that no two survivors of sexual abuse feel the same way when it comes to litigation. Deciding to pursue a civil case against your abuser is something that you must consider carefully. No amount of compensation could ever repair the pain and suffering you went through. However, a civil claim can help you recover the money you need to rebuild your life and begin to heal.

Contact Our New Jersey Child Abuse Attorneys Today

Choosing to file a civil lawsuit is a personal decision. If you are a child abuse survivor in New Jersey, we want to help you learn about all your legal options and help hold your abuser accountable. The New Jersey child abuse attorneys at Donald G. Targan & Associates, believe in helping survivors through this difficult time. We offer compassionate yet aggressive legal representation every step of the way. To learn more about your legal rights, call us at (609) 348-1106 or fill out our confidential contact form. We are ready to help you hold your abuser and the negligent institutions that harbored them accountable for their actions.


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