In 2019, 23 states passed laws reforming the statute of limitations for child sex abuse, according to the advocacy group Child USA. Among them was New York, where the Child Victims Act, passed last year, waives the statute of limitations on all child abuse claims in a one-year window that began Aug. 14, 2019. After Aug. 13, 2020, the statute of limitations will take effect when the victim is 28 years old in criminal cases — and 55 years old in civil cases.
In New York as in other states, plaintiffs responded swiftly. Hundreds of suits were filed on Aug. 14, when the window opened. In the wake of the litigation flood, insurance coverage disputes have followed swiftly. In New York, insurance companies or policyholders have filed at least three complaints that related to insurance coverage for sexual abuse claims. A fourth may be imminent, as Continental Insurance Company has requested permission to file a coverage complaint in the Diocese of Rochester bankruptcy.