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Home  »  California LawSexual Assault & Abuse   »   How California’s AB 218 Passage Impacts Thousands of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

How California’s AB 218 Passage Impacts Thousands of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

On October 13th, California Governor, Gavin Newsom, signed bill AB 218 into law, effectively impacting thousands of sexual abuse survivors who now have the right to file a lawsuit towards obtaining justice. The new legislation has been applauded by many, and viewed as a major step towards resolving the current dichotomy between child and adult sex abuse cases in California. In short, AB 218 provides extended time for survivors to file a lawsuit by increasing the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. The new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2020, will serve to aid many survivors who, as is often the case, might require extended time to process and heal from their abuse before pursuing a lawsuit. 

How do I know if I’m eligible to file a lawsuit?

Part of the bill’s wide appeal, in addition to the fact that it will ultimately secure justice for so many additional victims, is its general simplicity. If you are 40 years old or younger and have been the victim of sexual abuse, you are automatically eligible to file a lawsuit beginning January 1. That’s a substantial increase from the previous limit of 26 years old.

However, even if you are over the age of 40, you may still be eligible to file a claim given the multiple facets of AB 218. 

Firstly, AB 218 allows for what’s referred to as a three-year “lookback window” for previously time-barred claims. This is truly groundbreaking, as it provides virtually any victim of childhood sexual abuse the ability to file a civil lawsuit against their individual predator or at-fault institution within three years of the bill becoming law. It’s a blanket window that, beginning January 1, applies regardless of how long ago the crime occurred.

Secondly, (and this is where the law becomes slightly more complex, and open to some interpretation), the new law allows for a five-year statute of limitations on the discovery of an adulthood psychological injury that is the result of childhood sexual abuse. Moreover, AB 218 actually changes the terminology within the law to be more broadly defined as “childhood sexual assault.” 

The new five-year statute is an increase from the previous three-year statute of limitations. Whether or not this particular aspect of the new bill applies to your case may be a moot point if you already meet one of the aforementioned requirements. However, it is an important consideration for victims who experience delayed, psychologically traumatic health effects (such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD), and can have a direct impact in determining their eligibility for filing a lawsuit. 

Additionally, in an effort to prosecute sexual abuse crimes that may have been part of a systematic cover up (whether by individuals or institutions) and seemingly send a message to predators that such acts are not merely heinous but intolerable, the new legislation allows survivors to be entitled to triple the damages in instances where a cover up occurred. 

So, in summation, AB 218 enacts the following changes:

  • Increases the age limit to file a lawsuit for victims of childhood sexual assault from 26 to 40
  • Provides a three-year “lookback window” on claims which previously fell outside the statute of limitations 
  • Extends the civil lawsuit filing deadline from three to five years for those who recently discovered that a psychological injury or illness manifesting in adulthood was in fact the result of sexual abuse endured as a child
  • Expands the definition of childhood sexual abuse to be referred to as “childhood sexual assault”
  • If a cover-up was involved, AB 218 provides courts with the latitude to force defendants to pay up to three times the amount of actual damages to a plaintiff 

While the new bill is unquestionably a positive step forward for prosecuting childhood sexual abuse cases, because it expands eligibility for so many (current estimates being in the tens of thousands), it is important for survivors to proceed with filing their claim as soon as possible.

Selecting the best attorney to fight on your behalf:

If you are a survivor who is now eligible to file a lawsuit, selecting the best sexual assault attorney for your case is critical. Enduring childhood sexual abuse is abhorrent in every way. It’s an inherently sensitive subject, and you deserve to be represented by attorneys who will handle your case with discretion and care. 

Samuel Dordulian is the president and founder of Dordulian Law Group. As the former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Mr. Dordulian’s primary focus was prosecuting sex crimes. Throughout his esteemed tenure, Dordulian was successful in convicting numerous sexual predators with life sentences. He has a true passion for obtaining justice on behalf of sexual abuse victims, which is also reflective of his experienced Dordulian Law Group team. 

With the passage of AB 218, and the implications it will have on myriad cases, survivors will want to hire a competent and qualified California sexual abuse lawyer now, in anticipation of the bill taking effect on January 1. If you are one of the thousands of victims who will be newly eligible to file a lawsuit under AB 218, taking immediate action is imperative. In foreseeing a large number of cases being filed beginning the first of the year, time is of the essence to ensure that you are afforded the opportunity to secure justice through the courts in a timely fashion (especially considering that a backlog of cases is predicted by many legal experts).

Why your sexual abuse lawyer should be an expert on the new law’s ramifications:

Samuel Dordulian and the Dordulian Law Group team had been closely monitoring AB 218’s progression since its introduction in the hope that the bill would pass. As such, we are experts at navigating AB 218 for the benefit of our clients, and are keenly aware of the many ways in which this new legislation will impact your case and influence the legal strategy we present in court on your behalf.  As Dordulian has previously noted, the irony in the current law having “a steeper burden for kids than adults” was entirely unacceptable. The passage of bill AB 218 rectifies that unfortunate irony, and the Dordulian Law Group team view this as a monumental step that will finally afford justice for victims of childhood sexual assault who would have otherwise been left behind. 

We want to ensure that all victims are aware of the new law’s ramifications, foremost being how it provides peace of mind in knowing you no longer need to worry about being left behind, without any option to pursue justice. 

Serving our clients:

California AB 218 affects survivors who were victimized by individuals, but also those victimized by institutions that allowed such despicable criminal behavior to take place under their watch. It’s important to realize that your case is unique, and must be handled as such. You can be confident knowing that being represented by the Dordulian Law Group means that you have a staunchly motivated ally fighting on your behalf to guarantee that all guilty parties are held accountable. 

This applies to any individual who may have harmed you, but also to specific institutions that have a notorious history of overlooking abuse. We want you to be certain that with each case we represent, justice will be served to the fullest extent of the law. We are adamant that nobody, regardless of how seemingly significant or influential they may appear, is above the law. 

For many survivors, the pursuit towards obtaining justice and possibly finding closure has been a long and harrowing journey. At the Dordulian Law Group, we’re here to ensure that said journey will conclude with a fair and just resolution. 

For a free consultation, please contact us via email or phone at (800) 880-7777