Maryland Governor Wes Moore signed the Child Victims Act of 2023 into state law last week. The law effectively removes the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse lawsuits filed in the civil justice system. No matter when an act of child sex abuse occurred, the survivor can now start a civil lawsuit against the offender and/or any institution that harbored or enabled them, either intentionally or through negligence.
The law was backed heavily after a recent bombshell report detailed hundreds of acts of child sexual abuse carried out by members of the Baltimore Catholic Archdiocese. In the nearly 500-page report, some of the attacks discussed allegedly occurred decades ago. Before the Child Victims Act was passed, the Baltimore Archdiocese was essentially free from punishment for those acts.
Advocate groups for sexual abuse survivors, including the Maryland Survivors Network, have hailed the law as a massive step in the right direction. It acknowledges that sexual abuse survivors, especially children, can take many years or even decades to come to terms with what happened and to find the courage to speak up about it. Now, under Maryland law, offenders and groups that harbor them can better be held accountable, even for cases in which no criminal charges were ever brought or pursued.
However, there are nuances to the law that have drawn some criticism. Namely, there is a $1.5-million damage cap for non-economic damages like pain and suffering for claims filed against private entities. Cases against public entities like a school board or government department are capped even lower at $890,000. There are no damage caps on economic losses, though, which can include the cost of years of therapy. Still, the passage and signing of the law have created a broad opportunity for people to come forward and demand justice.
Brown & Barron is proud to be a Maryland law firm at the forefront of difficult and sensitive litigation, including those related to child sexual abuse. If you want to know your legal options now that the Maryland Child Victims Act of 2023 has become law, then please call (410) 698-1717 to speak with our attorneys. We are here to provide legal and emotional support.