Recently, a bill was passed by NJ Governor Phil Murphy to amend the NJ State Tort Claims Act allowing sexual abuse victims the ability to file civil abuse claims without regard to previous time restraints. The new statute of limitations bill will take effect on December 1, 2019 and allow liability standards in sexual abuse cases to now reach public entities and public employees at fault, as well as offenders. This means that victims may now file claims against public entities and public employees for sexual abuse, claiming a willful, wanton, or grossly negligent act of a public entity or employee resulted in a sexual assault, any other crime of a sexual nature, a prohibited sexual act being committed against a person as defined in section 2 of P.L.1992, c.7 (C.2A:61B-1). Furthermore, any immunity from civil liability granted to a public entity shall not apply to an action at law claiming that the negligent hiring, supervision, or retention of any public employee resulted in sexual assault, any other crime of a sexual nature, a prohibited sexual act as defined in section 2 of P.L.1992, c.7 (C.2A:30B-2), or sexual abuse being committed against a minor under the age of 18 as defined in section 1 of P.L.1992, c.109 (C.2A:61B-1). Charitable organizations and public entities are no longer immune and will be held responsible for allowing sexual abuse to happen negligently. Schools, charities, and religious organizations specifically now are able to be held responsible for acts that happened under their watch, when previously they were immune.
Before Governor Murphy signed this bill into existence, victims of sexual abuse only had 2 years to file a claim from whichever is later of their 18th birthday or when the victim learned of their injury and its relationship to sexual abuse.
Now with the new bill taking effect December 1, 2019, victims of childhood sexual abuse may file lawsuits until they are 55 years old, or up to 7 years from when they become aware of the abuse, whichever is later.
Adult victims of sexual abuse may also bring suit now up to 7 years from when they discover the abuse has caused injury, whether physical or mental, overruling the previous 2-year statute of limitations.
Moreover, those who do not fall in either category above that has now been approved will have a 2-year window for filing a sexual abuse claim, regardless of when the abuse had occurred, starting in December 2019. As a result, those who have been previously barred from filing a claim due to the statute of limitations may now file their claim starting in December 2019 and ending in December 2021.
If you or someone close to you is a victim of sexual abuse and would like to file a claim, please call for a free consultation and let Castellani Law Firm help you seek justice.