What Damages Can Be Obtained in a Human Trafficking Lawsuit?
Apart from any criminal consequences, civil action can be brought in a human trafficking case. This can help secure compensation and damages for the trafficking survivor(s) that might not be available in a criminal case, which is largely focused on punishing the perpetrator and removing them from the situation.
Damages may cover:
- Any medical expenses or hospital bills
- Lost wages or lost business opportunities
- Loss of companionship
- Reasonable attorney fees
- Other economic (calculable) losses
- Punitive damages intended at punishing the defendant for particularly egregious conduct
Besides these, there are several unique laws and provisions that cover damages and remedies which may be highly specific to human or sex trafficking civil cases. These are discussed separately below:
Compensation for Third Party Involvement
Some human trafficking laws may allow lawsuits to be filed against anyone who “knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value from precipitation in a venture which they knew or should have known” to be in violation of forced labor or trafficking laws.
As a result, this allows human trafficking survivors to collect damages from labor recruiters, motel or rideshare owners, doctors, and others, greatly increasing the amount of potential damages available to them.
Infliction of Emotional Distress
Emotional distress is a major component of human trafficking cases. Survivors can be subject to intensely demeaning acts that are forced upon them against their own will and without their consent.
Many may be torn away from their families and uprooted from their communities and sent to places they have no idea about. When calculating damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, courts may examine the duration and intensity of the distress, as well as awards issued in similar cases.
Breach of Contract
As mentioned, human trafficking can often involve promises of success and job advancement designed to lure the victims into harmful and illegal working conditions. In a civil case, courts may examine breached contracts or agreements to arrive at the overall damages award for a trafficking survivor. This often figures into cases involving institutional sexual assault or institutional trafficking.
Relief Civil human trafficking cases may call for remedies that extend beyond financial damages for the victims. For instance, courts may issue “injunctive relief,” which usually consists of an order requiring the defendant to take certain actions or to stop committing acts.
In some lawsuits, the courts may require the defendants to reform their employment practices and provide clear communication to employees about their rights. In this way, legal action can help prevent future instances of human trafficking, and can help elevate safety levels in our communities and workplaces.
In summary, the damages and remedies available in a human trafficking case can be substantial due to the harms and conditions the survivor undergoes. Damages may depend on several factors, including the skill and experience of the attorney handling the case. Thus, it’s important to contact the right lawyer to handle your case.
Civil human trafficking lawsuits may provide remedies beyond monetary damages to survivors. Contact Levin Simes Abrams at (415) 426-3000 to work with a legal team that can help you to obtain the full measure of justice you are entitled to under the law.