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How Long Do I have to Sue a Hotel for Sex Trafficking?


How Long Do I have to Sue a Hotel for Sex Trafficking sue liability compensation incident

Adult victims of sex trafficking have 10 years from the most recent incident of assault / exploitation to sue a hotel for sex trafficking on the premises. Those who were children at the time have a deadline of 22 years from the age of adulthood if they wish to sue a hotel for monetary compensation. Essentially, that means you can file a lawsuit until your 40th birthday, since California defines adults as individuals that are 18 years or older.

There is, however, a second standard that can be applied to the deadline for child sex trafficking lawsuits. In California, victims have 5 years to file a lawsuit from the date of finding out about a psychological injury or bodily harm that was caused by sexual abuse during childhood.

To understand what this means, we have to consider the reaction of most children when something traumatic happens to them. Most kids lack the emotional and intellectual capacity to deal with what they experienced, and some of them are fearful as they are being threatened, physically abused, drugged, etc., by their abuser. That’s why they learn to stay quiet and repress the painful memories in order to survive on a day to day basis.

Not talking about the abuse and getting help can have negative consequences for the victim, like mental health disorders that are disruptive to their lives. From an outsider’s point of view, it seems obvious that these are the tragic consequences of sexual abuse, but it’s not that easy for the victim to connect the dots when they have spent so many years running from the truth.

This is why the realization of injury resulting from sex trafficking can happen very late in a child victim’s life. Though you may be older than 40 when you make the connection, you still have 5 years to sue the individuals or entities that were negligent in their duty of care to you. This is why the statute of limitations to sue a hotel for knowledge of sex trafficking is not always a clear-cut issue.

Many aspects of the law, including how long you have to file a lawsuit, can be challenging to figure out based on your own circumstances. The sex trafficking lawyers of DTLA are here for you 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about suing a hotel where you or your loved one was trafficked.

How Long Do I have to Sue a Hotel for Sex Trafficking - sexual abuse lawyer attorney compensation incident liability
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Hotel Liability for Incidents of Sex Trafficking

As of January 1, 2023, laws went into effect that made hotels liable if they fail to report sex trafficking on the property that they were aware of. In addition, hotels must also contact law enforcement if they had reason to suspect human trafficking. This is based on a prior law that requires hotels to provide training to their staff to help them recognize the signs of trafficking among the guests.

However, the required training did little to prevent or combat sex trafficking at rented lodgings, as there were virtually no consequences for owners and staff if they failed to call the police of or a victim services organization. That’s why the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1788 (Civil Code section 52.65), which requires all supervisory employees to report incidents, allegations, or suspicion of sex trafficking at a hotel, motel, or resort. If they do not comply with the law, the business owner will be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the number of violations.

Holding hotels liable for trafficking on their premises is long overdue, and we fully support any measure that’s used to combat the use of hotels and lodgings for the purpose of selling an individual for sex against their will. Laws like AB 1788 will make these environments less favorable to human traffickers, as they are more likely to be scrutinized and reported by hotel employees.

If you or someone in your family was sex trafficked at a hotel, it’s essential to learn about the legal options that are available to you. Contact our office and talk to a California sexual abuse attorney during a free consultation.

How California Law Defines “Supervisory Employee”

In the previous section, we mentioned how the requirement to report incidents of sex trafficking at a hotel applies to supervisory employees. With that in mind, it’s important to define what this means in a legal sense. Basically, a supervisory staff member is someone with a certain level of authority over other workers at the hotel. These include making decisions or issuing orders on behalf of the owner, like hiring and firing staff, giving promotions and authorizing layoffs, suspensions and transfers. Thus, we are referring to people like hotel managers rather than a janitor or security guard.

Please note that the term “hotels” may refer to huge franchises like Holiday Inn or Econo Lodge, as well as small, privately owned motels. For smaller establishments, it’s possible that the owner and supervisory employee are one and the same. Conversely, bigger establishments may have an entire team of supervisory workers, who are all mandated reports under California’s law on hotel liability for sex trafficking.

Suing Hotels for Employee Participation in Sex Trafficking Activity

So far, we have talked about the responsibility of owners and employees at a supervisory level when it comes to reporting human trafficking on hotel property. But we want to clarify that hotels are liable if any of their workers directly benefits from such activity, which is another reason that these businesses are ideal locations for sex traffickers.

This is based on the concept of vicarious liability, where employers have legal responsibility for the actions of their employees when: 1) the employee caused injury to another party via negligence or reckless disregard; and 2) the act of negligence or misconduct occurred within the scope of employment.

As an example, let’s say that a cleaner at the hotel was accepting payments to “look the other way” and allow sex traffickers to conduct their activities in the rooms or other areas of the property. The law also refers to direct participation, like helping traffickers find and entrap victims at the hotel. As long as the employee derived tangible benefits from their knowledge of or participation in a trafficking venture, the hotel may be sued by the victim for monetary damages.

What is the Average Value of a Hotel Sex Trafficking Liability Lawsuit?

The value of a settlement on behalf of a sex trafficking victim can range from $500,000 to $10,000,000 depending on various factors that are unique to the victim and the harm they suffered. Generally, you will see higher values in cases of child victims, or those who were children when they were first subjected to any type of sexual abuse. Typically, these cases are settled for $2,500,000 or more, with some cases resulting in 8-figure verdicts. But as we mentioned, numerous factors impact how much a victim is entitled to, so the focus should not be on the average value of a human trafficking lawsuits against a hotel. Instead, we recommend that you speak with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer, who can determine how much you, as an individual, deserve in compensation.

How Long Do I have to Sue a Hotel for Sex Trafficking compensation lawyer attorney sue liability
How Long Do these Lawsuits Take to Settle?

The amount of time to settle a hotel liability for human trafficking lawsuit can take anywhere from several months to over 3 years. If we had to narrow things down further, 1 to 2 years is a reasonable timeframe, considering the cases we have handled over several decades. This may be a longer timeline than you were expecting, but sexual abuse is probably the most complicated area of personal injury law, especially when you are trying to prove liability by a third party.

Negotiating a settlement can easily take over 12 months, and if the other side refuses to work with us in good faith, we may need to ask for a trial date. This is when a sex trafficking lawsuit can take longer than 3 years, but you should keep in mind that less than 5% of lawsuits involving sexual abuse are tried in court.

Contact Our Law Firm

Legal advice is the key to protecting your interests and receiving justice as a victim of sexual exploitation. Yet, many people do not reach out to an attorney because they are worried about the associated costs. Here at DTLA Law Group, we never charge clients for the cost of legal representation. All of that is billed to the defendant and paid to us as a part of your settlement check. That means securing your payment is the only way we get paid. That’s our promise to you under the Zero Fee Guarantee, which you can take advantage of contacting us at your earliest convenience.

Our lawyers are ready to listen to your story and help you determine the best way to move forward. Please take a moment to schedule a free case evaluation with a hotel sex trafficking lawsuit attorney.


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