California Adult Sexual Abuse Law (AB 2777) Opens Window for Survivors to File Claims

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3-Year Window Now Open for California Adult Sexual Assault Lawsuits

3-Year Window Now Open for California Adult Sexual Assault Lawsuits

Nov 6, 2023

For sexual assaults occurring on or after a survivor’s 18th birthday, California law typically allows a civil claim for damages to be filed within either of the following deadlines:

  • 10 years from the date of the sex crime
  • Three years from the date of discovering an injury or illness resulting from the sex crime (such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD)

However, as of January 1, 2023, a new California law known as the Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act gives survivors of sexual assault a chance at justice for claims that would have otherwise been barred by the statute of limitations.

California Assembly Bill 2777 (AB 2777), or the Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act, opens a three-year window to file civil claims. If you were sexually assaulted on or after January 1, 2009, you have until December 31, 2026, to file a civil lawsuit against your perpetrator (whether an individual or institution) for financial compensation.

This landmark bill known as California AB 2777 is expected to provide justice for countless survivors whose claims would have otherwise been unable to be brought due to an expired statute of limitations.

Dordulian Law Group’s Founder and President, Sam Dordulian, described the importance of the Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act (AB 2777) in the video below.

Questions and Answers About California AB 2777/The Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act

The new AB 2777 law which opens a three-year window for adult sexual assault survivors to file civil lawsuits in California is a significant opportunity for any individual harmed by a sexual predator to get the justice they deserve. At Dordulian Law Group (DLG), we’ve represented thousands of sexual assault survivors, fighting aggressively to secure justice through maximum financial compensation.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions related to the new California AB 2777 law (also known as the Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act):

What is the Assembly Bill 2777 in California? AB 2777 is landmark legislation passed by California’s elected officials in 2022 which, as of January 2023, opens a three-year window for survivors of adult sexual assault and abuse to file their civil claims for financial compensation.

How long do I have to file a claim under California AB 2777? Technically, adult survivors of sexual assault have until December 31, 2026, to bring their civil claims for damages. However, if you are a victim of adult sexual assault or abuse, it’s strongly recommended that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible about filing your lawsuit. Claims are able to be filed immediately, and waiting to come forward can potentially have an adverse impact on one’s case – evidence can be harder to locate, witness statements can be less exact, etc.

What if I never filed a police report? Can I still file a civil suit under AB 2777? Yes – a criminal report and/or investigation is not necessarily required in order for a survivor to bring a civil lawsuit against his or her perpetrator. AB 2777 was passed to afford survivors an extended deadline to bring their claims.

What types of damages can be recovered in a California AB 2777 lawsuit? Damages that may be included in a sexual assault civil claim can vary depending on the circumstances of each unique case. However, some of the more common damages that are recovered by sexual assault survivors in civil cases include things like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages/reduced future earning capacity
  • Mental anguish
  • Hospital or medical bills (past and future)
  • Psychological distress
  • Counseling or therapy expenses (past and future)
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Punitive damages (not capped in the state of California)

What if I didn’t undergo a rape kit immediately after my sexual assault? Rape kits can be important pieces of evidence in sexual assault civil cases, but not having one doesn’t mean you can’t still bring and win your claim. Other pieces of evidence, such as communication with the perpetrator (texts, emails, etc.), conversations with friends/family, disclosures to therapists or psychologists, personal journal entries, and more can all be used against a perpetrator in an AB 2777 civil lawsuit.

What if no criminal charges were ever brought against my perpetrator? Criminal and civil proceedings are two separate aspects of the U.S. Justice System. Even if a sexual predator was found not guilty in criminal court, a survivor could still successfully bring a civil claim against that person and recover due financial compensation.

Will I need to testify against my perpetrator for an AB 2777 claim? Not necessarily. Many sexual assault lawsuits are settled out of court, which means a confidential agreement is reached without ever having to file an actual lawsuit. Additionally, if a lawsuit is filed, that doesn’t automatically mean the case will go to trial. It’s also important to note that the process of confronting a perpetrator – while seemingly stressful and potentially re-traumatizing at first – can ultimately be an empowering experience for survivors of sexual assault.

DLG’s founder and former sex crimes prosecutor, Sam Dordulian, highlighted this phenomenon in a recent blog:

What I’ve found over the years, assisting hundreds of survivors, is that those who have gone through the legal process typically find it very empowering. They were once terrified of this scary predator, but eventually come to realize he’s actually not that intimidating when sitting quietly and meek in a courtroom with deputies standing over him, and is eventually carted away in handcuffs. For the first time, it’s the survivors who are now in control, not the perpetrator. And when a survivor takes back that control from the abuser, it can be incredibly healing. I’ve represented victims on countless occasions who are terrified before taking the stand. However, when they decide to take that step, to walk up, get on the stand and testify before that now meek and incarcerated perpetrator, inevitably they come to magically realize that this awful person who had hurt them so severely no longer has any power,” Dordulian said.

Is there a fee to hire a California AB 2777 sexual assault lawyer? At DLG, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is never any upfront cost to you as our client until after we’ve successfully secured a damages award for your case. You pay nothing until we win for you – it’s that simple (and we assume all the risk when accepting your AB 2777 case).

Why was California AB 2777/The Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act passed? In the bill’s text, California legislators cited a number of troubling statistics to support the passage of AB 2777:

  1. Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.
  2. One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
  3. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), only about 300 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means more than two out of three go unreported.
  4. 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide; 13% attempt it.
  5. A 2016 analysis of 28 studies of nearly 6,000 women and girls 14 years of age or older who had experienced sexual violence found that 60% of survivors did not label their experience as “rape.”
  6. Women may not define a victimization as a rape or sexual assault for many reasons such as self-blame, embarrassment, not clearly understanding the legal definition of the terms, or not wanting to define someone they know who victimized them as a rapist or because others blame them for their sexual assault.
  7. When the perpetrator is someone a victim trusts, it can take years for the victim even to identify what happened to them as a sexual assault.
  8. For these reasons, it is self-evident that the unique nature of the emotional and psychological consequences of sexual assault, especially on women, can paradoxically permit wrongdoers to escape civil accountability unless statutes of limitation are crafted to prevent this injustice from occurring.
  9. When these data are combined with widespread news reports of major companies being accused of covering up sexual assaults by their employees it is self-evident that statutes of limitation for sexual assault need to be crafted in a way that does not cause the covering-up company to enjoy the fruits of their cover-up solely because our statutes of limitation permit, and thus motivate, such behavior.

How can I file my California AB 2777/Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act Lawsuit?

To speak with a Los Angeles, California, sexual assault attorney, contact Dordulian Law Group (DLG) today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM for a free and confidential AB 2777 consultation. Our dedicated SAJE TEAM (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) includes not just top-rated and proven sex crimes attorneys, but also access to a four-tiered support network that is available to our clients 24/7:

  • A licensed and nationally accredited in-house victim advocate
  • A licensed in-house clinical therapist with over 15 years of experience
  • A retired LAPD sex crimes detective with over 30 years of experience investigating your case
  • Representation by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor, and his team of proven sexual assault lawyers

If you were victimized by a sexual predator and your crime occurred on or after January 1, 2009, you may be able to secure justice through a civil claim with DLG. Reach out to a dedicated member of our team today – we’re here to answer any questions you have and offer guidance on your legal rights and options.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

At DLG, we believe, support, and fight for justice on behalf of survivors of California sexual assault.

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