What Recourse Do You Have If You're Injured By A Police Officer In The Line Of Duty?

Law Articles

Violent, heated clashes between police and private citizens have seemed to dominate headline news for quite some time. While the vast majority of interactions between law enforcement and civilians are peaceful, in some situations an officer may cause physical injuries while trying to detain or arrest a citizen, or inadvertently harm a bystander while pursuing someone else. If you're injured in such a situation, can you file a lawsuit against the officer who caused you harm? How will your medical expenses be paid?

Read on to learn more about the legal options available to you if you're injured by a police officer or other law enforcement official.

Can you sue a police officer for injuries this officer caused you in the context of his or her job? 

Tort law is a very broad area, and individuals are generally able to sue others for personal injuries caused by everything from auto accidents to purposeful assault. In some cases, the responsible party's insurance will cover the costs of these injuries, while in others you may be able to seek a personal judgment against the person who caused you harm.

However, police and law enforcement officers have some legal protections not available to civilians, and they can be granted immunity in certain situations. This makes suing a police officer much more complex than suing a private individual. However, police officers aren't immune from liability for serious, unnecessary injuries they cause while performing their jobs. 

To be successful in a personal injury lawsuit against a police officer (or officers), you'll need to conclusively establish a few things. First, you'll have to show the officer violated a duty of care owed to you. You'll then need to show that this violation of the officer's duty of care directly resulted in your injury or injuries. Finally, you'll need to establish actual damages -- such as medical costs or lost wages. If you're injured by an officer, but not severely enough to require medical care or treatment, it's unlikely you'll be able to recover a judgment. 

In addition, if you could conceivably be deemed as attempting to resist arrest at the time you were injured, your burden of proof may be much higher, as officers are generally given a fair amount of leeway when it comes to subduing defendants. You'll need to show that the officer used excessive force that he or she knew (or should have known) could cause you harm. 

How can you sue a police officer? 

Filing a lawsuit against a police officer is different from suing a private citizen. It's likely you'll first need to file a notice of tort claim with your city or state government -- this puts the government on notice that you're suing an employee in his or her official capacity. After you've done this, you'll be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in your county's circuit or superior court. Depending upon the political climate in your county and the relationship between your local judiciary and police force, you may want to request a special judge to be appointed from an outside county to help ensure a fair hearing. 

In some cases, the city or county may offer to settle your claim before a trial. You'll want to evaluate this offer carefully -- going to trial can have both financial and emotional costs, and sometimes putting this matter behind you by settling can be the best thing you can do for yourself. However, if the settlement amount offered is inadequate to fully cover your costs, you may be better off taking your chances before a judge or jury.

Contact a lawyer through sites like http://www.dlplawyers.com for professional advice on what route to take,


11 August 2015

Dealing with Estate Planning When You're Single

Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.