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Sexual Assault SOL Revival Windows

Dedicated Michigan Civil Attorneys Helping Victims of Sexual Assault Stand up to Their Attackers

Survivors of childhood sexual assaults sometime are unwilling or unable to report their trauma until later in life, and in some cases, the silence is never broken. The reasons for keeping the assault private are varied, but likely revolve around some combination of fear, embarrassment, institutional disbelief or dismissal, and outright intimidation. Given the weight carried by sexual assault survivors, many are not prepared to report their experience until later in life, sometimes decades after the assault.

Statutes of limitations have barred many civil legal claims for injuries suffered at the hand of a sexual assault perpetrator. Often, institutions are also responsible for their negligence—or sometimes, complicity—in allowing the abuser to have continued access to children. Justice is not served where survivors lose any chance of recovery three years after the assault occurs. In some states, a claimant would be required to file a notice within 90-days of the assault or forever lose their right to sue if the institution was a public school.

After a long push by sexual assault survivors’ advocates, states are enacting “sexual assault statute of limitations revival windows.” A revival window sets a particular time period under which the survivor can sue an individual or institution, regardless of when the assault occurred. Many time barred claims are now “revived,” but only for a prescribed amount of time. Arizona, California, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. have all enacted revival windows. Many other states have legislation under consideration to enact a revival window. However, the length and start/end dates are different for each state.

In Michigan, victims advocates are working tirelessly to extend the statute of limitations for civil sexual assault claims, as the current law only allows claims to be made only until the survivor’s 28th birthday. The Access to Justicve Plan is a new legislative proposal that seeks to address this issue by recognizing that the average survivor of child sexual abuse may not feel empowered to come forward until the age of 52. If approved, this Act could significantly extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims filed in Michigan civil courts, raising the age limit to 52 from the current 28.

The proposed Act also aims to extend the civil statute of limitations for claims involving criminal sexual conduct after the time of discovery to 7 years, up from the current 3 years. This expanded window provides more time for investigation and case preparation before a plaintiff is compelled to take legal action. Notably, the civil statute of limitations could be entirely eliminated in cases involving a defendant or offender convicted of the related sex crime.

Furthermore, the Act introduces a two-year sexual assault statute of limitations revival window for survivors who missed their opportunity to file a civil claim before previous statutes of limitations expired. This lookback window offers countless survivors a chance to stand up, find hope, and pursue legal action that was previously impossible.

Filing a claim against a government agency or organization for negligence, especially concerning sexual abuse claims, has been notoriously challenging due to governmental immunity. If the Michigan Act passes, it would eliminate this immunity for governmental defendants in criminal sexual conduct cases if the agency or individual employee knew or should have known about the sexual abuse but failed to act against it. For instance, if someone is sexually abused in a state-run educational institution by a staff member, the Act would make it more difficult for the state to evade liability.

The Establishment of a Survivors’ Bill of Rights

Additionallty, the Access to Justice Plan includes the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights. This proposed bill of rights aims to simplify the decision-making process for survivors considering civil action. The key rights and rules proposed are:

Survivors must be notified of their right to speak with lawyers, advocates, and supporters at all stages of the sexual abuse reporting process.

Survivors must be given the option to have a sexual assault counselor present during forensic exams. Forensic testers must process, review, and report forensic exam kits in an “adequate” time frame.

Understanding your rights and taking timely action is crucial. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, consider seeking the assistance of a Michigan personal injury attorney from The Neumann Group who specializes in these cases. Our lawyers can provide the guidance and support needed to navigate the legal process and help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve. Remember, you are not alone, and there are advocates ready to stand by you on your journey towards healing. Contact the experienced sexual assault lawyers at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation today. We have offices throughout the state, as well as in Boston and Los Angeles.

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