Cal. Legislature Expands Window To File Lawsuit for Child Sexual Assault Starting 1/1/2020

Governor Newsom has signed California Assembly Bill 218 into law.  The law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020,  increases the amount of time a victim of sexual assault has to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the assault and the perpetrator’s employer.  This law amends Code of Civil Procedure sections 340.1 and 1002 and Government Code section 905.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse, now termed sexual assault, will now have 22 years from the date the plaintiff turns 18-years old. Or, if the injury is not recognized by the age of 18, within five years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that a psychological injury or illness was caused by an sexual assault, whichever event is later. Consequently, a child could have been assaulted in the 1950s, then learn from a doctor as an adult that the problems in life were all caused by the assault, and bring a lawsuit within 5 years of the report by the doctor.  It will be very difficult to find witnesses today for a case that arose in the 1950s.

In addition, the Legislature is opening a window for certain cases of child sexual assault which were previously time barred.

The new law also provides for the recovery of up to three-times damages against defendants who attempt to cover up the allegations in these actions and would revive time-lapsed claims in certain circumstances.

The Government Claims Act now specifically excludes the requirement to present a claim to a public entity for claims made for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse, as defined, arising from conduct that occurred on or after January 1, 2009.  So a lawsuit can be brought against a public entity without filing a Government Claim.  Districts should save insurance records for a long time, perhaps forever. 

If you are the victim of sexual assault, or an employer (or public entity) which requires defending from an allegation of child sexual abuse, please contact our office with any questions.