Claims in New York for intentional torts such as assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment, must be brought within 1 year of the act. These intentional torts are the most common causes of action when pursuing sexual assault or harassment in civil court.
Claims in New York for negligence, such as negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring of an employee, or negligent retention of an employee, must be brought within 3 years of the act or omission.
Keep in mind these are the time frames required for formally starting the action, not when they must be completed by.
There are two exceptions to these general rules:
- Although intentional torts are subject to a rather short statute of limitations, New York civil procedure rules provide an exception if a case has or is being pursued criminally. CPLR 215(8) allows a plaintiff one year from the termination of a criminal prosecution to bring a civil lawsuit if it is shown that a criminal action against the same defendant has been commenced with respect to the same event or occurrences. Certain sexually related criminal offenses allow the plaintiff 5 years from the termination of the criminal action to commence the civil action.
- An exception to the statute of limitations also exists for plaintiffs who were under the age of 18 when victimized. Becoming New York law in 2019, the Child Victims Act allows victims to pursue an action against their abuser and institutions that enabled them until they turn 55 years old.