When you or your loved one undergo abuse when being trafficked, the aftermath is emotionally damaging. Additionally, it is challenging to track the perpetrators for legal redress on your own. Therefore, working with attorneys who specialize in human trafficking cases is advisable. Injury attorneys can help file claims and chase the compensation you deserve.
At Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm, we offer exceptional legal services to help you present and win the litigation against your traffickers. Our experienced team of attorneys has handled numerous sexual abuse cases that involve human trafficking and ensure the victims were well compensated.
We are ready to listen to any special concerns regarding your human trafficking case, gather evidence, file a lawsuit, and fight for your compensation. Thanks to our widely available services in California, you can spare travel expenses in search of professional Sex Abuse litigation services.
The Scope of Human Trafficking Offense
Courts use statutory guidelines when handling cases involving human trafficking. The main guiding statute is the California Penal Code section 236.1. Under the statute, human trafficking involves the deprivation of another person's freedom without his/her consent. Denying the victim their liberty is fueled by the intention to exploit them into forced labor, forced commercial sexual acts, or obtaining pornographic content from them.
Note that there are different forms of human trafficking, as discussed from section 236.1 to 311.6 of the Penal Code. This means that you can file a suit even when your case did not involve the common tactics of abduction and forced hardship/sexual labor.
Human trafficking is not limited to victims in a specific age group. Anyone could be a human trafficking victim/ target. As a result, the penal code also details unlawful activities where minors are the targets.
As earlier mentioned, trafficked victims will be forced into sexual abuse, including commercial sex and pornography engagement, to benefit the traffickers. In this case, minors are more vulnerable to sexual abuse after being trafficked, as they may not have the capacity to seek help or oppose their perpetrators. Therefore, the most common form of human trafficking involves pimping out the victim to commercial exploitation.
The pimps are the main beneficiaries of the unlawful activities and often manage the victim's day-to-day life. For example, you may lose your freedom to move around because a pimp will restrict you in a building or house. Additionally, you will have to present all revenue you acquired after exploitation to the pimp who may never repay you.
Seeking Compensation for Human Trafficking
You are entitled to restitution after undergoing hurtful and painful ordeals in the hands of human traffickers by seeking justice. After the traffickers are apprehended, you will first work with a criminal prosecutor to help him/her obtain all the required information for a trial. Additionally, you may appear in a criminal court as a primary witness to testify against the traffickers.
While a criminal trial is important to incarcerate the culprits of human trafficking, you may also need restitution to compensate for the damages you faced. Subsequently, you are also capable of seeking justice in a civil court as the traffickers will have to pay damages for your claims.
As attorneys focusing on personal injury law, our expertise lies in obtaining restitution for our clients after the criminal case is concluded. This is because the evidence used in criminal trials is valuable in civil cases for the plaintiff. For example, since our focus shows that the defendants engaged in unlawful activities by trafficking and exploiting you, the same evidence from the criminal trial is admissible.
Additionally, the criminal case will ensure that the traffickers stop any engagement in human trafficking to prevent additional complaints similar to yours. After they have received a sentence in criminal courts, you can make a further civil court claim for the award of damages.
Your personal injury attorney’s roles include analyzing the evidence from the criminal courts and selecting relevant sources for your civil law case. Your lawyer should also ensure that he/she has sufficient evidence to discredit the respondents in your case after identifying the possible liable parties.
Possible Liable Parties to Your Suit
After consulting with your lawyer, he/she will come up with a comprehensive list of possible liable persons to the suit. When finding the parties to call as respondents, your attorney greatly relies on the information you provide, including case facts and any important details from the criminal trial. Afterward, he/she will prepare possible arguments that may be persuasive to the judge.
You need to remember that your perpetrators can be defendants in both civil and criminal cases. Therefore, you do not need to worry about a possible restriction in filing a civil suit, provided the case facts are enough for a credible civil matter. Additionally, defendants vary depending on your case’s circumstances so that you may have multiple parties or a single person. The possible respondents in your matter include:
The Person who Recruited you into Human Trafficking
The most common defendants in human trafficking cases are recruiters who organized your entry into unlawful and forced labor. Usually, the recruiter uses different tactics to engage you and eventually traffick you off to third parties. The agreement between the recruiter and the other parties may include a monetary commission based on the number of trafficked victims they bring in.
Subsequently, you can provide details on how the recruiter approached you and whether he/she presented an enticing idea deceitfully to traffick you. For example, if the person promised to get you a scholarship abroad as a trick to get you into the commercial sex industry, you can inform your attorney of the specific details and provide evidence.
Parties Sent to Entice You into Trafficking
Sometimes, recruiters use third parties to entice vulnerable persons into trafficking, especially if they look more trustworthy. For example, sending a woman to entice a female victim into being trafficked may be a better approach, as the victim may trust the woman faster.
If you can identify the person sent to entice you to join an arrangement that turned out to be human trafficking, he/she can be a respondent. However, your claims should have corroborative evidence for the best chances of success. Having inadequate proof to show that the respondent was involved may be disadvantageous as the respondent may overturn the details against you.
Additionally, your family members may be responsible for enticing you into trafficking. They may do this by presenting a narrative of prosperity after you take an offered ‘job.’ Sometimes, they may also be liable for manipulating your trust because their involvement hides the intent to traffick you. Some cases may also include distant relatives involved in your abduction and transportation to a different area for exploitation.
While your relatives may be a liable party to your case, we understand the difficulties that arise in suing them. Therefore, your attorney can offer a guidance session where you get to weigh your options if you decide to sue. With a well-planned approach, you can then seek restitution from your relative, primarily if it is necessary for you to seek justice.
Anyone Who Hosted You During the Trafficking Process
Any host who knew that you were being trafficked can also be a liable party, especially if he/she worked closely with the main perpetrator. Commonly, trafficked persons spend days in transit before reaching a different state or country outside the U.S. Therefore, if you observed any syndicate, including people who hosted you as you were trafficked, you could present the details to your attorney for further action.
However, you need to be careful with the details you provide, especially if you are unsure whether the host took you voluntarily or under coercion. This is essential when he/she is the primary respondent if other perpetrators were not traceable for your case. If your details are unclear, the respondent’s attorneys may counter your claims with credible arguments. This may lower the chances of a successful outcome for you.
Transporters who Facilitated the Trafficking
Your case may have involved being trafficked into a different area, meaning that the trafficking organizers procured transporters. Mostly, car drivers are the accomplices tasked with getting victims to their new destinations. They may also have to engage in other illegalities like blindfolding, tying, or gagging you up to make it easier to abduct you.
While these transporters may have ongoing cases in the criminal division, you can decide to include them in your civil matter if you have a substantial case against them. We recommend using relevant evidential sources from the ongoing criminal case if possible because you will have sufficient proof of the respondent’s misconduct.
Financial Beneficiaries of the Human Trafficking
This category includes the masterminds behind the human trafficking arrangements, meaning that they get the most benefits from your exploitation. Finding them and pressing charges against them may be difficult because they are prone to using other people’s services to enable human trafficking.
Nevertheless, if the arresting police conducted a successful rescue operation, they may find the beneficiaries and hold them accountable for their civil and criminal liabilities. Your attorney can discuss the possible claims to present against a beneficiary if he/she was not directly involved in the trafficking. This way, you are assured of presenting a viable court case.
Hotel Managers and Owners in Premises where Sexual Exploitation Occurred
You may also include hotel owners as respondents in your civil suit if they were aware of the ongoing sexual exploitation on the premises. For example, if they knowingly let out rooms to trafficked commercial sex workers, they are answerable for enabling offenses related to sexual abuse.
On top of this, the hotel owners and managers can assume liability for engaging in a transactional relationship with the human traffickers. The offenders may offer a percentage of exploited victims’ revenue to keep the operations running, contrary to legal provisions. Thus, if sufficient proof is available to show that the management acted unlawfully, you can seek rightful compensation for the damages caused.
Abductors Working for Pimps or other Patronizers
Lastly, you can include the abductors who forcefully took you away from your surroundings and handed you over to human traffickers. Each human trafficking case has unique circumstances, including abductors who work for personal gain and others employed by pimps and financial benefactors.
Claims to Seek Compensation For in Civil Cases
After presenting your case in a civil court, the judge will analyze the details and determine the suitable amount for your compensation. To do this, you should provide detailed entries of all experiences you faced after you were trafficked.
Moreover, you should provide specific claims and justifications for the claims to enable the judge to reach a satisfactory decision. Subsequently, spending enough time at the preparation stage is valuable, as it equips your attorney with the best case strategies to present. The following are possible claims to raise:
Damages for Physical Pain
Doubtless, undergoing a human trafficking experience involves a lot of resistance, particularly when you are abducted and exploited against your will. However, as you try to fight for your liberty, you may sustain significant physical pain from injuries.
The acceptable claim for physical pain should involve experiences surrounding the human trafficking period. For example, if a pimp or abductor physically abused you for failing to follow orders, you can include the causes as justification for the claim.
Alternatively, you may focus on the deplorable conditions in which you were detained for sexual exploitation. If poor sanitation and healthcare access caused you painful health conditions, you could also seek rightful compensation to ensure that you are well-rested.
You should also note that the claim for physical pain damages may extend to instances where you tried to escape from the human trafficking organization and ended up hurt. The judge is likely to accept your claim, provided you were not careless or contributorily negligent before sustaining your injuries.
Losses Incurred from Medical Expenses
When you or a loved one returns to safety, seeking medical attention is necessary to check for possible health risks after facing the traumatic experience. For example, sexually exploited victims are encouraged to take several physical examinations with a gynecologist.
In doing so, they will receive the required medication to remedy sexually transmitted diseases or physical injuries, if any. The recurrent appointments will eventually add up to an expensive cost that may overburden the victim.
Sustained physical injuries also require medical attention to prevent infections and other dangerous health complications. Victims of human trafficking report varying injuries, especially if they were sustained as they tried to escape. As a result, medical attention focuses on treating these common injuries:
- Bone fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Deep cuts
- Missing body parts
You will also be required to receive treatment to help you maintain a healthy mental state. Upon returning home after being a human trafficking victim, you may have severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, or even mild psychosis from the trauma. Subsequently, receiving psychiatric treatment is important because it manages your mental health. Your psychiatrist may schedule appointments for up to months at a time, adding up to a lot of money.
Hence, your injury attorney will advise you to store all medical records of receiving treatment for any of the discussed scenarios. For example, you can retain all therapy appointment forms and any notes you took during sessions. With the forms at hand, you may choose to call on your therapist as a witness to affirm your medical treatment and use the documentary evidence as supporting proof.
Additionally, if you had X-Rays or CT-scans taken, you want to retain the original copies of the imaging as primary evidence in court. The judge is more likely to be persuaded of your injuries’ severity after receiving a medical report with images as evidence.
Also, any prescription forms and receipts that you received after treatment are useful sources of proof in court. This is because they show the exact amount spent and therefore justify the sum of money you seek compensation.
In adverse cases, the victims of human trafficking may lose their lives based on the harsh conditions they undergo. Consequently, your loved one may not make it back alive after being trafficked, leading to unplanned funeral expenses. Therefore, you can include a claim for the compensation of costs spent, as long as they are well accounted for and justified.
Sometimes, the judge may also allow for additional claims related to the consequences of the victim’s death. For example, if the deceased left behind a young child, the respondents may become liable for catering to the minor’s needs until a certain age. However, it is up to you and your family to decide on the extent of your claim. Regardless of your choice, you always want to justify the claims, as it will maintain your credibility before the judge.
Loss of Wages/Income
After being rescued from human trafficking, your mental and physical state may deteriorate, making it hard for you to go back to work as usual. Due to this, you may risk losing your income source or daily wages that should be compensated.
When presenting the claim, it is better to work from a genuine point, as the judge may order a statement from your former employer. Therefore, if you exaggerated your circumstances to appear more vulnerable, you may end up losing out on receiving any form of compensation.
You can also take a step further and present the actual financial losses you incurred before and after you were trafficked. For example, if you received a monthly salary cut off after your abduction and trafficking, you can prevent the total missed months of remuneration. Thanks to the presentation, the judge can make better estimates and award a proportional amount to the losses.
Damages for Emotional Distress
Any victim trafficked for exploitation will also develop emotional distress from the hostilities faced. On top of this, having to be abused sexually or physically for some time also takes a toll on the victim, leading to emotional damage. Since human trafficking tears families apart, you or your loved one will have difficulty adjusting to your new surroundings.
The claim is, therefore, valid and can be included in the total sum to be compensated. A recommended strategy to fully persuade the court of having a legitimate claim involves giving your witness testimony in court. Additionally, you may undergo a psychiatric evaluation and provide a report from the specialist as evidence.
Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me
After facing human trafficking, you, as the victim, is entitled to rightful compensation for all the harm caused. The effects of the offense can last for a lifetime, making it difficult to continue with your life as usual. However, receiving restitution is beneficial because you will receive financial support to eradicate medical or funeral debts. The compensation will also help combat emotional distress by enabling you to see specialists.
In a civil case against human trafficking, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who is competent enough to represent you. At Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm, we dedicate ourselves to fighting for the victims of sexual abuse enabled by human trafficking. Our legal team comprises compassionate and equipped lawyers who will significantly take on your civil case and increase the chances of success in court. If you or a loved one requires legal representation or advice in any part of California, reach us today at 310-359-9451.