You might expect law enforcement to have certain protections against lawsuits and you would be correct. That does not mean, though, that law enforcement can harm others illegally with no reprisals. While many cases of police brutality, false arrest, and other forms of harm are handled internally, ordinary citizens can take civil action against law enforcement in certain circumstances. Read on to learn more.
Follow the Process
If you are harmed by an embarrassing post on Facebook, a quick visit to a personal injury attorney can have you filing a lawsuit against the poster in no time flat. The target of the lawsuit, however, matters, along with the type of personal injury suit you are filing. Just like medical malpractice claims, suits against law enforcement may only proceed after your lawyer has satisfied the various levels of administrative hearings. Having to follow all the channels may delay your lawsuit filing but that doesn't necessarily have to be considered a negative thing. You might be offered a settlement from law enforcement without having to file if the information found at the hearing level is convincing enough.
Single Defendant or an Organization
You can either sue an individual officer or the entire police force. If several officers were involved in the incident, you might want to sue the organization. If a single officer was involved but you have reason to believe that the policies or other wrongdoing of the police force placed a part, you may wish to file suit against both. Be aware, though, that some government organizations like law enforcement agencies or cities have immunity against certain types of lawsuits.
Courses of Action
For a plaintiff's case to move forward, no matter how many hoops you have jumped through first, the plaintiff has to have been harmed in a demonstrable manner. While many cases involve physical harm, the word harm in relation to personal injuries is more far-reaching. You can, after all, be merely embarrassed by a false arrest.
Many complaints have to do with allegations of excessive force by law enforcement. Many of those encountering law enforcement in a negative manner complain of excessive force, but no legal definition exists. The plaintiff will have to show that the police's goal might have been accomplished using a lot less force. Other types of complaints include:
- False arrest
- Unreasonable search and seizure
- Profiling and racial discrimination
- Police brutality
The best way to find out if you have a good case for filing suit is to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your situation. Reach out to an injury attorney today if you have questions about your specific case.