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Here’s What You Need to Know About NY’s Child Victims Act

Last Thursday was a momentous day for survivors of sexual abuse in NY state. Finally, after years of languishing in a Catholic friendly legislature, a bill that would protect children passed and was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.  In signing the bill at the New York Daily News headquarters in Manhattan, Cuomo noted that the Pope himself had called for measures such as the Child Victims Act to be enacted.

The symbolism of holding the signing ceremony at the Daily News should not be lost on anyone either.  The press, and in NY particularly the Daily News, has been a stalwart in keeping the issue of child sexual abuse at the forefront in spite of the best lobbying efforts of the NY State Catholic Conference.  Kudos to all the reporters who have investigated and reported on this important issue not only in the Empire State but across the country.  The Child Victims Act would not be law today if journalists hadn’t done such fine work.

Now that the Child Victims Act is the law, what does it mean for survivors of sexual abuse?

First, the law provides a “look back” provision whereby an abuse survivor can sue the Catholic Church regardless of when the abuse took place. The look-back period will open six months from now and remain open for a year. So it opens Aug. 14.

Second, it extends New York’s statute of limitations to allow for criminal charges against sexual abusers of children until their victims turn 28 for felony cases, up from the current 23.

Third, it allows victims to seek civil action against their abusers and institutions that enabled them until they turn 55.  This is particularly important since most if not all survivors can’t come forward before entering middle age as a result of the psychic trauma they suffered as children.

While most of the Catholic dioceses in the state have offered a compensation program to survivors, the new law allows survivors the opportunity to have their day in court.  This is particularly important because it is only within the civil justice system that the actions of the priest perpetrator and the diocese who sponsored him are revealed.  Allegations of cover-ups and transfers can be proven in a court of law through the release of church documents often found in such places as the church’s secret archives. The Catholic Church never freely releases these documents and they are often the most revealing and important documents related to child sexual abuse and the church’s role in that abuse.  Without these documents, allegations remain just allegations.  The discovery process which is only possible when a lawsuit is brought, reveals the operating procedures of the Catholic Church and how they handled reports of abusive priests.

For instance, the Diocese of Brooklyn released a list of more than 100 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.  The list was compiled after an internal review of diocesan files. This isn’t an independent accounting of sexual abusers in the diocese.  It’s a list compiled by those who covered up abuse and transferred clergy from one parish to another.  In announcing the list, Bishop DiMarzio noted that 60% of those on the list are deceased.  He failed to address the whereabouts of the 40% who are not deceased.  Where are they?  Are they still abusing children?

This is precisely why the law had to be changed. The Catholic Church cannot police itself. That is the task of law enforcement as well as the court system.

If you or a loved one has been abused by a Catholic priest at any time in the past, please contact me immediately for a free initial consultation.

 

 

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How Soon Should I Call an Attorney After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One?

The death of a loved one is always an emotionally devastating experience. Besides the trauma of the loss, you may also have to deal with a number of administrative tasks such as facilitating probate and preparing for the funeral. If the death was accidental, the situation becomes even more stressful. For example, if you relied on the deceased for financial support, you may have to find a new way to make ends meet virtually overnight.

Depending on the circumstances of the death, though, you may be entitled to compensation for damages like funeral costs and lost income; however, you will have a limited amount of time in which to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Also, essential evidence might become unavailable if you wait too long to initiate the investigation, so it is wise to call a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

Seeking legal counsel may be at the bottom of your to-do list while still grieving, but putting off the initial consultation means putting off the proceedings—and that could prove disastrous for your family. Here are just a few reasons to call a personal injury lawyer immediately following an unanticipated death in the family:

  1. To Meet All Critical Deadlines 

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of Minnesota is three years; however, there are several exceptions to this deadline. For example, if you want to name a government entity in the suit, you typically have to submit a written notice within just 180 days of the death.

It is also important to remember that any insurance claims you file prior to the suit have no bearing on the timeline. Therefore, if the negotiations are especially contentious or lengthy delays ensue, you could run out of time to bring the case to court should you fail to reach a settlement. 

  1. To Gather Time-Sensitive Evidence 

In many personal injury claims, some of the most important pieces of evidence are time-sensitive. Certain kinds of evidence are also vulnerable to being altered or destroyed. By hiring a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible, you will give your legal team the opportunity to gather any evidence that may not be available indefinitely. 

  1. To Protect Your Family’s Financial Security 

The financial impact of losing a loved one unexpectedly can be devastating. And in most cases, the damages will increase with every passing day. Although it is impossible to predict the total duration of the case because disputes and delays can arise, the sooner you call a lawyer and commence the proceedings, the sooner you may be able to recover the compensation your family needs to put the pieces back together. 

Call 320-259-5414 to Speak with a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Minneapolis 

If you want to file a wrongful death claim in Minnesota, turn to Bradshaw & Bryant. We will answer your questions, conduct a thorough investigation, and help your family determine the most strategic way to proceed. Call 320-259-5414 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney in Minneapolis.

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