California Assembly Bill 218, also known as AB 218, went into effect on January 1, 2020. This landmark legislation has brought significant changes to the state’s civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases. AB 218 is a response to the growing awareness of the long-lasting trauma caused by such abuse and aims to provide survivors with a fair opportunity to seek justice. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of AB 218 and answer seven frequently asked questions about the bill.
AB 218 extends the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, allowing them more time to pursue legal action. Under this new law, victims have until the age of 40, or within five years of discovering that their psychological injury or illness was caused by the abuse, to file a lawsuit against their abuser or the institution responsible. Previously, individuals had until the age of 26 or within three years of discovering the psychological injury to file a claim.
1. Why was AB 218 necessary?
AB 218 was necessary to address the unique challenges faced by survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Many victims repress their memories or struggle to come forward due to shame, fear, or the influence of their abusers. The bill recognizes the need for extended timeframes to allow survivors to find the courage and support required to seek justice.
2. How does AB 218 impact institutions?
AB 218 holds institutions accountable for their role in enabling or covering up abuse. Institutions can now be sued under this bill if they knew or should have known about an employee’s abusive behavior and failed to take necessary action to prevent it.
3. Can I still file a claim if the abuse occurred before January 1, 2020?
Yes, AB 218 allows victims of abuse whose claims would have expired under the old statute of limitations to file a claim until December 31, 2022. It provides a three-year window for those previously time-barred claims.
4. Does AB 218 only apply to cases within California?
No, AB 218 applies to any case that occurred within California or involved a California resident. It allows victims from across the country to seek justice if the abuse occurred within the state or involved a Californian institution.
5. Are there any exceptions to the extended statute of limitations?
Yes, AB 218 includes a provision for cases in which the abuser has died or the institution has filed for bankruptcy. In such cases, victims may still file a claim within three years of discovering the psychological injury caused by the abuse.
6. Can I seek compensation if I previously settled a claim?
If you previously settled a claim related to childhood sexual abuse, AB 218 allows you to seek additional compensation if you can demonstrate that the settlement was unjust due to the extent of the injury or illness that you suffered.
7. Can I file a claim anonymously?
Under AB 218, victims have the option to file claims anonymously. This provision aims to protect survivors’ privacy and encourage them to come forward without fear of retaliation or stigma.
AB 218 signifies a significant step towards supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse in California. The bill’s extended statute of limitations provides survivors with more time to seek justice and hold both individual abusers and institutions accountable for their actions. The FAQs addressed in this article aim to provide a clearer understanding of the bill’s implications for survivors and the legal process.