Sexual Assault and Abuse Lawyers | Lawyers & Attorneys
New York Sexual Assault and Abuse Attorneys Advocate for Justice
In New York state, the signing the Child Victims Act into law made it possible for thousands of abuse survivors to file claims against their assailants that previously were blocked by the statute of limitations.
For those people who have been sexually abused by clergy, teachers, coaches or youth leaders, whether it was at a school, at a club, at home, at a party, on a date, or at work, the law now gives a victim time to file the claim.
Not only is sexual assault a terrifying, painful, and demeaning experience when it happens, but the psychological effects can plague the victim for years, if not his or her entire life. This is especially true for children, who often experience consequences such as guilt and shame, fear and distrust of others, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, difficulty forming healthy romantic and sexual relationships, suicidal impulses, and behaving abusively toward others.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault, whether recently or years ago in childhood, the lawyers at LaMarche Safranko Law can help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Under the Child Victims Act, which took effect Aug. 14, 2019, survivors have one year from that date to file any civil claim that had expired; additionally, the statute of limitations for all civil claims has been extended until a victim turns 55. The LaMarche Safranko attorneys have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate the difficult and emotional journey it takes to pursue a claim against an abuser.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Assault and Abuse
Our personal injury lawyers provide answers to some important questions below.
Sexual abuse refers to any type of illegal or coerced sexual conduct against another individual. A wide range of offenses fall into this classification, which is not constrained to physical contact alone. Sexual abuse can include acts of sexual touching, rape, indecent exposure, forcing another individual to view or participate in pornography, and contributing in any way to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Incidents can occur in a single episode or repeatedly over time.
Reporting incidents of sexual abuse or harassment can be difficult because many people may not believe what happened to them is considered assault in the eyes of the law or they feel the authorities will not believe them. Survivors of sexual abuse should know that it is never the victim’s fault and should work with police to pursue criminal charges against the attacker. As part of both a criminal and civil case, it will be important for the victim to preserve evidence but also seek help from medical and mental health professionals as they work through the trauma.
Yes. A case for sexual assault can be pursued in both criminal and civil court. In civil courts, there is no cause of action for “sexual assault”. Instead, the victim would file a lawsuit for one or more of a number or torts (wrongful acts that caused harm to a victim).
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
- False imprisonment
In the civil justice system, the aim is not to determine innocence or guilt of an offender, but instead to determine whether someone is liable for the injuries sustained by an individual. To be liable means, in the eyes of the law, the offender is responsible for the conduct and therefore responsible for the damages and injuries. A civil court finding that an offender is liable will mean that the offender needs to pay the victim or his or her family a certain amount of money.
A criminal case for sexual assault is pursued by the District Attorney of the County in New York where the incident occurred. The burden of proof in criminal court is high. The sexual assault must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The standard of proof in a civil case is different, it is a lower burden of proof. In a case for money damages, the plaintiff needs to show that it is “more likely than not”,” that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s damages. In law, this standard is referred to as by a preponderance of the evidence.
If the perpetrator/defendant is convicted in criminal court, this is helpful when pursuing a civil case. A legal rule known as “collateral estoppel” would allow the plaintiff in the civil case to present evidence that a jury in a criminal case already found the defendant guilty of committing the act(s). This may apply whether the person is found guilty, or if they plead guilty.
In order for me to bring a lawsuit, is it required that the perpetrator be convicted in criminal court first?
No. Even if the defendant was not convicted at a criminal trial or there is no corresponding criminal case at all, the victim may still be able to pursue a civil case.
The person who committed the acts is not the only person who can be named in a civil lawsuit. The victim may also choose to name a third party, such as a school, a company, or an institution where the assailant worked or lived, who may also be responsible. One strategic reason for doing this is to ensure some monetary compensation when the perpetrator has little or no assets. While most incidents giving rise to personal injuries are covered by insurance policies, such as car accidents and slip and fall incidents, insurance policies exclude coverage for intentional acts. Pursuing a third party under a theory of negligence may be the only source of compensation if the perpetrator has few personal assets.
Examples of claims against a “third party” include a claim against an employer who failed to properly screen or monitor an employee who sexually assaulted a person, or a claim against a landlord, business, church or other religious institution, government entity, school, or hospital, who negligently supervised a person or employee or failed to provide adequate security.
Any damages in a civil lawsuit are monetary and meant to help compensate the victim for expenses as a direct result of his or her injuries. The injuries and damages taken into consideration may be economic such as medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, future medical costs, or non-economic such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. How these aspects are valued is different for everyone.
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.
Sexual assault is characterized by intentional physical contact that a victim does not or cannot consent to through the use of force, threats, intimidation, or abuse of authority. Sexual harassment involves unwanted, inappropriate sexual advances, including suggestive gestures, language, or touching.
What if someone shared inappropriate content of me online or is threatening to share such material? What are my rights?
“Revenge Porn”, also called “Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image” is a crime in New York. If you are a victim of this type of conduct, you have several rights, including the ability to file a civil lawsuit. Pursuant to the New York Civil Rights Law, a judge or jury can award injunctive relief (requiring that an action be stopped), compensatory damages, punitive damages, and reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees. The statute of limitations regarding this type of harm is 3 years from the posting of the material or 1 year after the discovery if it has been more than 3 years.
Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
- If injured, when ready, contact a personal injury lawyer to determine if a claim can be pursued on your behalf
- Meet with a lawyer to discuss the incident
- Bring medical records or other relevant documents including an accident report if available
- Your lawyer will help you understand the process of a personal injury case
- Follow the doctors’ advice
- Go to all medical appointments
- Report all symptoms to doctors
- Take photos of injuries
- Tell lawyer anytime a new doctor is seen
- Determine how and why the injury occurred
- Speak with witnesses
- Obtain any investigative reports
- Obtain scene, vehicle and product photos, as applicable
- Obtain medical records and bills
- Consider all possible claims and theories of liability against any potential defendant
- Consult with experts
- Communicate and negotiate with the insurance company
- Obtain a settlement or pursue a lawsuit
- File a summons and complaint prior to the statute of limitations
- Serve the legal documents on the defendants
- Prepare and exchange evidence with the other lawyers in the case
- Conduct depositions of all relevant parties (also called EBTs)
- Defense medical examination conducted
- File motions (written applications) to the court if necessary
- Participate in arbitration or mediation if appropriate
- Determine liens if any
- Settle the case or proceed to trial
- You have the right to a trial by jury or by the judge who will act as both judge and jury
- At a trial, the injured person must prove it was more likely than not that the defendant was negligent and caused injuries
- The judge or jury will listen to all the evidence presented and the arguments by the lawyers, apply the facts to the law, and render a decision
Recent Verdicts & Settlements
Plaintiff was assaulted outside of a bar in Saratoga and as a result suffered a traumatic brain injury, a fractured skull, brain swelling and brain bleeding, facial contusions and bleeding, as well as lacerations and bruises on his body. He also suffered from short and long term memory deficits and other cognitive deficits.
Plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of negligent monitoring of prescription medication.
Nursing Home Negligence
An 87-year-old man was discharged from a local hospital on the afternoon of his death and returned to his assisted living facility. His health began to deteriorate throughout that evening; a nurse was told to check on him but never did. Facility staff found him unconscious on the floor in his room later that evening; paramedics were unable to revive him. It was claimed that the facility failed to obtain appropriate medical advice, assistance and treatment.
The infant plaintiff fell from a tractor being operated by a farm employee and was run over by the tractor. The 10-year-old boy suffered a femur fracture requiring surgery, multiple facial fractures requiring surgery, foot and toe fractures and loss of consciousness.
Federal Employers Liability Act/FELA
Plaintiff suffered a significant back injury while working for CSX.
Plaintiff, a roofing contractor, suffered a fractured skull, cervical spine fracture and fractured ribs after falling from a roof. The injuries left him with chronic pain and fatigue, limited tolerance for walking, lifting, or carrying and limitations in his hearing and vision.
Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle which went off the road and rolled over, causing him to suffer significant permanent injuries, including skull fracture; fractured mandible requiring surgical placement of plates and screws; facial fractures and lacerations; sternal fracture; spinal fractures; lacerations to spleen, liver and lung; multiple rib and toe fractures; tinnitus and hearing loss; post-traumatic stress disorder; facial scarring and numbness.
Plaintiff was injured when a fork from a forklift truck fell on top of his left leg, severely fracturing the tibia and fibula, requiring numerous surgeries and resulting in a permanent, partial loss of use of his leg.
Plaintiff suffered two dislocated shoulders and a dislocated elbow after he was struck by a vehicle, which negligently swerved onto the shoulder and into the bike lane.
Plaintiff was an ironworker who was injured when he fell from a ladder, suffering fractures to both elbows resulting in permanent loss of strength and loss of range of motion in both arms. His impairment limited the number and types of employment opportunities and limited his future earning potential.
Plaintiff, a 49-year-old man, was discharged from the hospital with critically low levels of potassium, which precipitated a fatal arrhythmia at home and subsequently caused his death. His family brought a claim against the hospital for medical negligence and wrongful death.
* Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.
LaMarche Safranko Law Testimonials
“I cannot thank George E. LaMarche lll and his team for the excellent legal work they provided for my son, and in extension, our entire family. His experience, knowledge of the law, networking ability and communication is second to none. In our case, our son was wrongly accused by a small town police officer and charged with 5 tickets…
“Dear Mr. Safranko,
Thank You so much for answering my question, and so expediently!
The dedication, respect, and consideration with which you treat your clients, current and past, is remarkable. It is why I reached out to you when searching in my time of need, and why I would highly recommend…
“I wanted to express my deepest appreciation to Mr. Andrew Safranko for the exceptional job he did in regards to my legal representation. Mr. Safranko displayed the utmost in professionalism and discretion during the entire court process, and took the time to explain each and every step….
Thank you so much for everything you have done for our son over the last three years. This has been a very challenging time for our family and the knowledge that our son has an attorney as capable and amazing as you are has given us peace of mind!
“The staff at LaMarche Safranko Law took care of whatever I needed, it was just fabulous. It was top shelf, if I called, I got George. If he was in a meeting, they left him a message. He called me right back after the meeting. Everybody was very courteous and very nice there. If I left a voicemail, everybody got back to me quickly. The level of service was very, very good and I would Highly recommend them.”
“Dear Andrew and George,
I cannot thank you enough for your hard work, diligence, and selfless manner that you put towards my legal difficulties in Colonie. From the first moment I met you, you helped reassure me that things were going to turn out in a more favorable manner than I originally thought. Clearly, the final result of my court case displays the quality of time and work that you put into this….
“Dear George, Andy and Staff,
Thank you all for your kindness and all your help in getting back to my wellbeing and life. I could not have done it without you all. Everything is going so well again. I recommend you highly. Thanks Again!”
“The arrest of my husband in 2008 was an extremely difficult and emotional time for our family. The arrest turned our lives upside down. It was sudden and unexpected and had tragic emotional as well as financial consequences. I had no idea what to do under the circumstances….
“My family and I cannot thank George and his staff enough for all of the support and guidance they have given us over the past six months. Anyone who has ever suffered a personal injury knows how difficult they are to overcome, but I’m glad we had such an intelligent and hardworking attorney on our side so I could focus on my recovery rather than on the details of the case….
“I can honestly say that the best decision I’ve ever made was retaining George LaMarche as my attorney. I was in a situation where everything wasat risk; my career, livelihood, and the ability to provide for my family. In desperation, I contacted over a dozen attorneys. The majority of the lawyers I spoke with promised results without seeing paperwork or knowing valuable facts….
“Throughout the attorney client relationship regarding my personal injury lawsuit, George and his staff continually exhibited tremendous amounts of legal knowledge, skill, and a vast amount of expert resources that ultimately resulted in a final judgment in my favor. George was there every step of the way to explain where we stood and what to expect next and there was never a need to question his professional judgment…
“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent representation on my recent matter. I have worked with lawyers, and in law firms much of my professional life, but I have never encountered the rare mix of skill, integrity and humanity in one individual—you….
“I am an attorney who found himself in the middle of a serious, personal legal matter that compromised not only my personal life but my professional life as well. I immediately contacted Andrew (Andy) Safranko, Esq. Andy worked tirelessly and extremely hard to bring my legal situation to a very favorable resolution. In so doing, Andy not only saved certain aspects of my personal and professional life…
“No one likes to be in a bad situation, but if you need a lawyer George is your man. Not only does he point you in the right direction he offers good advice for your future. As much as we bring him business he does not encourage that next time anticipation….