A New Law that Every New Yorker Should Know About—The Adult Survivors Act


On May, 23, 2022, New York State passed the Adult Survivors Act and on November 24, 2022, the Adult Survivors Act went into effect. The new law gives adult survivors of sexual assault one year to file lawsuits against their perpetrators. Under the Adult Survivors Act, victims can bring claims against individual defendants, but also against responsible entities, such as employers, universities, government agencies and hospitals.

The Adult Survivors Act creates a one-year look-back window for sexual assault survivors to pursue civil claims for abuse. This includes sexual abuse, forcible touching, and “spiking” for sexual assault, when a victim is unknowingly given drugs or alcohol. Victims can seek compensation for sexual offenses they experienced years or decades ago.

The Adult Survivors Act temporarily extends the statute of limitations for bringing claims for sexual offenses. The Adult Survivors Act provides a limited window until November 23, 2023 allowing survivors of sexual assault who were 18 years old or older at the time of the occurrence to brain lawsuits for the offense regardless of how long ago it was committed. Individuals may be able to recover economic, compensatory and punitive damages from both the perpetrator and an institution.

The Adult Survivors Act eliminates the statute of limitations allowing survivors to file claims that would otherwise have been time barred. Anyone who survived rape, criminal sexual assault, forcible touching, sexual abuse, or incest as an adult, regardless of their current age, can sue the assailant’s institution or employer for negligence. Institutions or employers can be held liable if they could have intervened to prevent the sexual assault from happening.

The Adult Survivors Act reflects the reality that there are many rational reasons why survivors may wait a long time, some even decades, to come forward with the sexual abuse they endured. During the Harvey Weinstein trial, many survivors were called forward to present witness testimony, but were unable to file their own lawsuits due to the statute of limitations. With the implementation of the Adult Survivors Act, they can now take their cases to court.

Any qualifying action that was previously dismissed because it was time-barred may not be brought again under the Adult Survivors Act. The temporary elimination of the statute of limitations applies only to civil claims. In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults for civil lawsuits for a select number of sex crimes. However, that legislation only affects new cases and is not retroactive.