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Assembly Bill 218 Changes the Landscape for Sexual Abuse Victims

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Archive: Dec 2019

Assembly Bill 218 Changes the Landscape for Sexual Abuse Victims

On October 13, 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new bill into law that dramatically changes the timeframe that sexual abuse victims have to file lawsuits against their abusers.

Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) takes effect Jan. 1, 2020 and implements the following changes:

  • Victims of childhood sexual abuse now have until age 40 or five years from the discovery of the abuse to file civil lawsuits. The previous laws set the age limit at 26 years of age or within three years from the discovery of abuse.
  • Victims of all ages now have three years to bring claims that would otherwise have been barred due to existing laws.
  • Previously barred claims that were not litigated to finality due to the three-year time frame will be revived.
  • The bill will allow for “treble” damages against defendants who are found to have covered up sexual abuse of a minor.
  • There is a change in terminology in AB 218 from “childhood sexual abuse” to “childhood sexual assault.” This broadens the definition and makes it easier for victims to bring a claim.

This Is a Major Change

AB 218 is critical for victims of sexual abuse, many of whom have had no recourse available to them because of existing time limits. The three-year “lookback window” has now been opened. Victims of childhood sexual abuse in California will now be able to file claims against their abusers regardless of their age.

This change matters. Research suggests that survivors of childhood sexual abuse do not typically tell anyone about their abuse until they are well into adulthood. Many people do not even realize they were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of adults until much later in life – well past the age of 26.

One California man alleges he was sexually assaulted by a priest in the mid-1970s. Of AB 218, he says, “It’s a chance for me to heal and move on.” The abuse he sustained left his with deep emotional scars. He has never been married and has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

Added Penalties for Institutions

Because AB 218 allows for childhood sexual abuse victims to recover treble damages against those who are found to have covered up sexual assault of a minor.

As we have learned over the last few decades, major institutions in the United States knew about abuse taking place within their ranks and worked to cover it up. This includes, but is not limited to, the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and more. These institutions would move abusers from place to place, allow them to resign and get jobs elsewhere, or simply remain where they were – all without reporting the abuse to law enforcement.

AB 218 will shine a light on these cover-ups, force institutions to confront their past, and change future policies.

The Time for Victims to Act Is Now

Courageous victims of sexual abuse are already coming forward thanks to Assembly Bill 218. They recognize this as the opportunity to get the justice that they never thought they would have. They are done being silent. DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo is ready to get to work and will be filing cases on behalf of BLANK sexual abuse victims on Jan. 1, 2020.

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Time Limits to File Sexual Abuse and Harassment Lawsuits in California

Victims of sexual abuse and harassment have varying time limits to file lawsuits in California. These differences arise depending on whether the victim was a minor or an adult at the time that the abuse or harassment took place.

Recently, California passed Assembly Bill 218, which dramatically alters the timeframe in which childhood sexual abuse survivors have to file a civil claim against their abusers.

How Long Do Child Survivors of Sexual Abuse Have to File a Claim?

The amount of time those who were sexually assaulted as a child has been changed by Assembly Bill 218. This law was passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Newsom. It takes effect on January 1, 2020, and implements several changes to the existing timeframes that survivors of childhood sexual assault have to file claims.

  • Victims of childhood sexual abuse have until they turn 40 years of age, or five years from the discovery of the assault, to file civil lawsuits. The law previous capped the limit at the age of 26 or three years from the discovery of abuse.
  • Victims of any age will have three years to bring claims that would have otherwise been barred due to existing statutes of limitation.

How Long Do Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse Have to File a Claim?

Adults who have suffered from sexual assault (the assault occurred on or after the plaintiff’s 18th birthday) must file a claim on the later of the following (text taken from CA Civ Pro Code § 340.16):

  • Within 10 years for the date of the last act, or attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault by the defendant against the plaintiff.
  • Within three years from the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an injury or illness resulted from an act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault by the defendant against the plaintiff.

This law took effect on January 1, 2019. Victims of assault that took place before that date may only have three years from the date of the attack to file a claim against their abuser.

Why You Should Not Delay Filing a Claim

Understandably, sexual assault is an emotional issue. However difficult these claims are to bring forward, you should not delay in doing so. Even with expanded time limits, a delay can damage or destroy your case due to several reasons:

  • The deadlines may be missed. These deadlines are serious. If they are missed, a sexual assault victim will lose their right to sue and collect any compensation for what has happened to them, regardless of how strong their cases.
  • A delay damages evidence. As time fades, so does the evidence. Physical evidence may be degraded or lost, and memories fade over time.
  • Delays prevent a victim from receiving the counseling they need. The sooner a victim comes forward with their claims, the sooner they will get to work with psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who are trained to help victims of sexual assault.
  • Justice is delayed. Delaying a claim and they prevent justice from ever being served on the perpetrator of the abuse. Prompt legal action can help prevent an abuser from attacking others.
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Adult Victims of Childhood Abuse

Over the last few years, this country has been grappling with revelations of childhood sexual abuse. Many instances of this abuse have occurred at the hands of people that the children should have been able to trust. The perpetrators are often in positions of trust, responsible for a child’s well-being. This includes teachers, members of the clergy, coaches, and even family members.

How Does This Abuse Affect Victims?

Adults who were the victims of childhood sexual abuse often experience sex for their entire lives. Any survivor of childhood sexual abuse can suffer from symptoms related to their abuse. More extreme symptoms are often seen in victims who suffered from abuse:

  • At an early age
  • For extended or frequent periods
  • From a parent
  • Through forceful means

Physical Effects

Physical effects that adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse can include:

  • Chronic and diffuse pain, especially of the abdominal and pelvic region
  • Lower pain thresholds
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Self-neglect
  • Eating disorders

Studies have shown that adults who were abused as children are 4 to 5 more times likely to abuse alcohol or other illicit substances. They are also more likely to smoke, be less physically active, and are more frequently severely obese.

Sexual Effects

There are various sexual effects the victims of childhood sexual abuse can suffer from in adulthood. This can include disturbances of arousal, desire, and orgasm due to the Association between sexual activity with violation and pain.

Studies indicate that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to have 50 or more sexual partners over their lifetime. They are also more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and engage in risk-taking behaviors that increase their risk of contracting HIV.

Certain gynecological problems are more common among survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This includes pelvic pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus, and vaginitis.

Interpersonal Effects

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are often less likely to be skilled at self-protection methods. They may struggle with issues of low self-esteem, which may have been the result of negative messages they received from their abusers when they were children. This can lead them to them being victimized again in adulthood. Many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are repeatedly victimized in adulthood due to their general vulnerability in risky and exploitative situations by untrustworthy people.

What Survivors Can Do

For some adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, there are minimal effects on their functioning in adult life. However, others will experience physical, sexual, psychological, and behavioral symptoms as a result of what happened to them. Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse must seek help from trained professionals.

Many victims do not feel comfortable coming forward and speaking out against their abusers. However, adult victims of childhood sexual abuse should be aware that they may be able to file civil lawsuits against the perpetrators of their abuse. While no amount of compensation will erase what happened, a civil case may help bring closure to the situation.

You should speak with a skilled childhood sexual abuse attorney about your options moving forward. An attorney will be able to guide you towards those who may be able to help with the effects you are experiencing. No matter what, the abuse you in curd as a child was not your fault and it is never too late to start the healing process.

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Orange County Work Accident Statistics

If you have suffered a workplace injury, you’re not alone. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace accidents took 5,190 worker lives in 2016. This is an average of 100 deaths per week, or more than 14 deaths per day.

Thousands of others suffered serious and debilitating injuries. In California alone, private industry employers reported 466,600 occupational injuries in 2016. Here are a few other worker injuries and workers’ compensation statistics:

  • In 2016, 376 employees in California passed away from work-related injuries. This was the second-highest worker fatality rate in the United States.
  • Transportation accidents are the leading cause of worker death in California – a fact that has remained consistent every year since the start of workers’ compensation reporting.
  • Transportation incidents took 145 worker lives in CA, assaults/acts of violence took 77, falls took 64, contact with objects/equipment 58, exposure to harmful substances took 20, and fires and explosions took nine lives.
  • Orange County (along with LA County), reported 109 worker deaths in 2016. More employees died on the job in this region in 2016 than any year since 2011.
  • The majority of deceased workers in California in 2016 were white (43%), followed by Hispanic (39%) Asian (9%), and African American (7%). The youngest worker to die on the job was 22 (Alexis Cedillo-Osorio). The oldest was 66 (Jack Rafael Ruiz).
  • The vast majority of deceased workers in California in 2016 (93%) identified as male. Women are less likely to suffer fatal injuries at work, but more likely to suffer repetitive motion and musculoskeletal injuries.

Every year, workplace accidents take more lives. Employers, product manufacturers, and third parties continuously put employee lives at risk through acts of negligence, recklessness, or malicious intent to harm. If you currently have a work-related injury, contact Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer. Hiring an attorney can help you successfully navigate the claims process.

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