Under this law, anyone in the state who suffered sexual abuse or molestation as a child can file a civil lawsuit for damages against the sexual offender as well as a private or public institution associated with the incident. Currently, survivors of child molestation and child sexual abuse can only file a civil claim until they turn 21, or in some cases, 28.
How does the Elimination of the Statute of Limitations Help?
Child victims are often too young to understand the abuse at the time or may even believe it was their own fault. They may not know who to turn to for help or may not feel safe confiding in their parents, teachers, or caregivers. Even after reaching adulthood, many victims struggle to feel safe coming forward and often suffer in silence for years or decades. Meanwhile, the “clock” on the statute of limitations starts ticking at age eighteen, which only allows victims to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser until their twenty-first birthday.
This means that by the time the survivor of child sexual abuse gains the courage to bring their perpetrator to justice, it’s already too late. The Child Victims Act of 2023 would change all of this, allowing victims to file a civil claim at any time, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
What is the Status of the Child Victims Act of 2023?
The Child Victims Act passed the Maryland State Senate with an overwhelming vote of 42 to 5. Next, the bill goes to a vote in the Maryland State House, where it is also expected to pass. The bill will be reviewed by the Maryland Supreme Court, where it will be defended vigorously by Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown. Finally, Governor Wes Moore will be handed the bill for his signature into law. Governor Moore has repeatedly expressed his support for the bill, and we are confident that it will pass.
Should You File a Civil Claim for Child Molestation?
Even if you already filed criminal charges against your abuser, you may be reluctant to pursue additional a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. The process may sound overwhelming or may seem less important than a criminal case. While the choice is different for everyone, a civil lawsuit can offer you more than monetary compensation.
Although financial compensation can’t truly make up for the trauma of the past abuse, holding your abuser accountable can help achieve a sense of closure. Even if your abuser wasn’t criminally charged or convicted and it feels like the justice system has fallen short, you can still fight and win a civil lawsuit that helps you move forward. A civil claim can even help protect other victims who would otherwise be subjected to the same abuse in the future.
Even if your abuser was convicted, a civil lawsuit can allow you to hold them accountable more than the criminal penalties or sentence. You may even be entitled to extra, “punitive” damages, which send a strong message to society as a deterrent against future abuse.
SBWD Law and our experienced team of personal injury attorneys are more than prepared to fight for maximum financial damages on your behalf. Our attorneys already fight for victims of sexual assault every day and has wholeheartedly supported the passage of this bill since its first introduction. Once passed, we will be ready to start working on day one to ensure you are fully compensated for your counseling fees, medical bills, emotional distress, and all other pain and suffering you endured as a survivor. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.