AB-218: What It Means for Survivors of Child Sex Abuse

On October 11, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB-218 into law. Effective January 1st, 2020, this bill gives survivors of child sex abuse a second chance at compensation from their abusers.

If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse as a child, and you have thus far been unable to pursue compensation, it may be worthwhile to consult a California sexual abuse attorney now. AB-218 may enable you to pursue the compensation and justice you deserve.

What is AB-218?

AB-218 is a state bill that modifies the statute of limitations for those who were sexually abused as children in California. Recent reports have uncovered a history of rampant sexual abuse in numerous well-known organizations, often dating back decades. This bill allows those who may be outside the statute of limitations to speak out their abuser in court by obtain compensation and closure for their life-altering damages.

What Are the Current Statute of Limitations?

The current statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors are as follows:

  • Eight years after the age of majority (18 years old), or
  • Within three years of the date of discovery – the date you discovered that the cause of your psychological injury/illness that occurred after the age of majority was caused by sexual abuse.

The date of discovery is an effective way to extend the statute of limitations for survivors. The clock for statute of limitations starts only when a psychological injury or illness is officially diagnosed as a direct result of past abuse – giving those who have been impacted more time to pursue compensation.

How Does AB-218 Change the Statute of Limitations?

Effective January 1st, 2020, AB-218 extends the statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse.

  • Survivors now have 22 years from the age of majority to pursue recovery of damages.
  • Survivors now have five years from the date of discovery, up from three years.

This is a significant increase from the previous restrictions.

What If I’m Still Past the New Statute of Limitations?

Much like other state bills addressing this same issue, such as the New York Child Victims Act, it recognizes that some survivors’ cases may still exceed the new statute of limitations. In order to remedy this, AB-218 also approves a three-year window to submit past claims, regardless of statute of limitations. This ensures that anybody who has previously been unable to pursue civil compensation can now have the opportunity.

Who Can Pursue Damages?

Anyone in California who is a survivor of sexual abuse as a child is eligible to file a claim under AB-218. This includes anybody who is a survivor of:

Thanks to the new three-year open window, everyone is eligible to file a civil claim, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Does AB-218 Impact Criminal Charges Too?

It is important to note that AB-218 only impacts a survivor’s ability to file a civil claim against their abusers. It does not cover criminal charges – primarily because California has previously abolished a statute of limitations on pursuing criminal action for sexual abuse.

Why is a Lawyer Necessary Now?

If you’d like to pursue a civil claim against your abuser, it’s almost universally recommended to first consult with an abuse lawyer before moving forward.

  • An attorney can help you answer any questions about AB-218 that you may have. There may be certain restrictions or addendums to the legislation that you may not be aware of.
  • If your abuse happened years (or even decades) ago, it may be difficult to build a strong case against your abuser. An experienced legal professional understands what it takes to win a case based upon an abuse that happened so long ago, and will assist you in gathering all the evidence necessary to win.
  • AB-218 goes into effect January 1, 2020 – but that doesn’t mean you should wait until then. Consulting with an attorney now can help you build a case in preparation for the law. Cases often take weeks and months to build, so it’s always best to get a good jump on it – especially considering the surge of lawsuits that may be filed come January.
  • If you are filing a claim against an established business or large company, they likely have a team of top legal experts arguing against your case. An experienced lawyer who has litigated against such organizations before can help you level the playing field, ensuring you have a fighting chance.

Ultimately, a lawyer can be there to act as your unwavering support through the claim, an advocate who can effectively argue on your behalf for compensation.