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GEORGIA PERSONAL INJURY AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS

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Can I Sue for Police Misconduct?

Posted on September 18, 2019 in Criminal defense

Police misconduct is a grave wrongdoing that can cost victims their lives. Police misconduct such as civil rights infractions, brutality or excessive use of force creates an unjust law enforcement system. It makes it difficult for civilians to trust the police, and for honest police officers to do their jobs.

If you become the victim of police misconduct in Georgia, you have rights. You may be able to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the government. A claim would start with reporting police misconduct to the correct authorities in your community.

How Do I Report Police Misconduct?

Start your police misconduct case by documenting your experience. The more details you can recall and corroborate later, the stronger your case will be. Write down everything that happened to you, including even the smallest details, as soon as possible after the incident. Then, contact an attorney. A lawyer that focuses on police misconduct cases can walk you through the right steps to take for reporting a crime. It is especially important to talk to an attorney if the police arrested you.

A police misconduct attorney will understand the laws relating to your claim and how to challenge the prosecutor’s case against you, if you were arrested. Your lawyer can then help you pursue a civil suit against the police department, starting with filing a police misconduct report in your jurisdiction. Someone within the police department should accept your complaint. You can also send it to a civilian review board if your city has one. Keep copies of your complaint on file for personal use.

Filing a report on police misconduct has a few potential benefits. If the police department takes your claim seriously, it may take internal action against the officer, such as suspending him or her pending an investigation. It will also create a record of your incident and the fact that you filed a complaint. Creating an official record can work in your favor later. The police or prosecutors may also be able to use your complaint in the future to demonstrate an officer’s pattern of misconduct.

Can You Sue for Police Misconduct?

Once you report police misconduct to the correct parties, work with a lawyer to find out if you have grounds to file a civil claim against the police department. A successful civil lawsuit against the police could give you a sense of justice and validation after a traumatic misconduct experience. It could also give you financial compensation for losses such as emotional pain and suffering, physical injuries, medical bills and legal fees. A civil claim requires that you or your lawyer prove three main things.

  1. The police owed you a duty of care. Law enforcement officers should protect citizens from abuse, not inflict it. Police officers have specific duties during interactions with civilians, including respecting their civil rights and using a reasonable degree of force.
  2. The police breached a duty of care. A breach does not have to be an intentional form of misconduct. It could be something such as a negligent failure to have reasonable cause to arrest someone.
  3. The breach of care caused your damages. The police officer’s actions must have caused or substantially contributed to your specific and compensable damages, such as personal injuries, pain and suffering or medical expenses.

If your police misconduct case has these main elements, you most likely have grounds to bring a claim against the police department. Since this is a government entity, your case will come with unique requirements. You will need to file an initial notice with the police department within six months of the incident, for example. Hiring an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney right away can help you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your chances of winning compensation. A police misconduct lawyer in Georgia will walk you through the steps you need to take for the strongest claim possible.