Can you sue for injuries sustained while incarcerated in jail or prison? Depending on the cause of the injury, there are remedies both in state and federal courts for inmate’s injuries. Here are some examples:
Section 1983 Lawsuits
Under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, civilians (including inmates) can sue for injuries or harm caused to them by state or local government agents. Since these lawsuits are often used to recover for injuries from police brutality, it isn’t difficult to see how they could be used to impose liability on state prisons and local jails for injuries caused while in custody.
Most injury claims while in jail or prison fall under violations of an inmate’s Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. However, if you were injured as the result of an unreasonable search, seizure, or detention, you also may be able to recover based on a Fourth Amendment theory.
You may sue under Section 1983 in either state or federal court, but only if your injuries were caused by state and local government – not by federal government or by private parties.
If you were injured while in a federal prison or detention facility, you may have the right to recover under a Bivens action. These lawsuits are very similar to Section 1983 suits in that they require a violation of either constitutional rights or federal law in causing your injuries. Unfortunately, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling clarified that this right to sue applies only to federal government entities and their employees – not to private prisons and their employees.
State Tort Claims
If Section 1983 and Bivens claims are unavailable, you can try to sue for compensation for prison or jail under state tort law. Theories of negligence and battery can work equally as well against private prison companies, as they do against other private businesses. An experienced attorney can help you decide which parties can be held liable for your injuries.
Lawsuits for injuries occurring in jail and prison are complicated, so it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an injury while incarcerated, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for a free consultation.