Maryland’s Child Victims Act of 2023 Opens Door for Survivors to Sue

Silverman Thompson

Last week, on April 11, 2023, Governor Wes Moore signed the Child Victims Act of 2023 (CVA) into law. The CVA eliminates the statute of limitations and the statute of repose for survivors of child sexual abuse, permitting survivors to pursue civil claims against individual perpetrators and the organizations or entities who facilitated the abuse, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Maryland’s statute of limitations for sexual abuse was last amended in 2017. Under the 2017 amendment, survivors of childhood sexual abuse were permitted to file a civil suit until they were 38 years old. However, because the 2017 amendment only modified the statute of limitations, and not the statute of repose, the amendment only applied to claims of abuse that had not yet expired in 2017. The CVA abolishes both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose, making it possible for survivors to file civil suits based on abuse that occurred even decades ago.

The CVA represents an important step to providing justice and healing to survivors of child sex abuse. While every survivor has a unique experience of abuse, a common thread in many survivor’s stories is difficulty reporting the abuse. One study shows that the average age at the time of reporting abuse is 521. The CVA revives claims that were barred under the previous law, allowing survivors to hold perpetrators, and the institutions that have enabled their abuse, accountable.

The new law also increases the statutory cap for noneconomic damages: the cap for government entities, such as public school boards, is $890,000, while damages against private institutions are capped at $1.5 million.

The CVA goes into effect on October 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 686

Delayed Disclosure: A Factsheet Based on Cutting-Edge Research on Child Sex Abuse, CHILDUSA, March 2020.

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