When a police officer violates someone’s civil rights, the individual has the right to take legal action against the police department. Holding law enforcement accountable for their misconduct is crucial.
Who Can File a Lawsuit Against the Police Department?
Various forms of police misconduct can occur. If a person can provide evidence of illegal surveillance, racial profiling, or discriminatory remarks made by an officer, they can successfully sue the police for harassment. Discrimination lawsuits can also be filed if there is evidence of a pattern of racial or sexual discrimination, or discrimination based on gender or sexual identity. Additionally, individuals can sue the police for violating their Fourth Amendment rights, which protect them from illegal searches and seizures. Finally, victims of excessive force can also take legal action against the police.
To win any lawsuit against the police, it is essential to present extensive evidence. Police officers and departments are notoriously challenging to overcome in court. However, with the assistance of the right attorney, the chances of success significantly increase.
What Can They Sue the Police Department For?
In a lawsuit against a police officer, the individual can request various damages depending on the specifics of the case. Economic damages can be sought if the person believes that police misconduct caused them financial harm. This includes lost wages compensation for employment time lost in the past or future opportunities affected by the police violation. Additionally, medical costs can be claimed if the victim required treatment for injuries.
Non-economic damages can be awarded for “intangible losses” beyond lost wages. These include mental and emotional distress caused by the encounter, as well as pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from injuries. Punitive damages serve to punish the offending officer and department, promoting future reform within the department. The amount awarded in punitive damages depends on the severity of the offense.
How Qualified Immunity Impacts the Case
Lawsuits against police officers and departments are notoriously difficult, making it crucial to choose an attorney experienced in suing police departments.
Qualified immunity, which primarily applies to police officers, shields them from personal liability unless it is explicitly stated by a “clearly established” law that their misconduct is not protected. This means that unless a previous court ruling deemed the actions of the police officer illegal, qualified immunity protects the officer from personal liability. However, this does not prevent a person from continuing with a lawsuit against the police department itself.
How an Attorney Can Provide Assistance and Choosing the Right Attorney
Having the right attorney during a lawsuit against the police is essential. Although these lawsuits are challenging, a successful outcome can result in significant monetary settlements.
For example, in 2018 alone, the NYPD cost New York $230 million. A Chicago man was awarded $17 million after being wrongfully imprisoned for over 20 years due to a detective allegedly fabricating the case. NBA player Thabo Sefolosha won $4.5 million after suing the police for brutality when his leg was broken in 2015.
By seeking the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney like those at Garrity Traina, victims can ensure that their case is in capable hands. From organizing evidence to presenting the case in court, an experienced criminal attorney will strive to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact Garrity Traina today to schedule a consultation.