Can You Sue the Police for an Injury?

Most interactions between citizens and police officers are routine and follow guidelines that police officers must adhere to. However, sometimes police officers make bad decisions, or allow situations to get out of control. This can lead to an excessive use of force, also sometimes called police brutality.

If you have been injured during an interaction with a police officer, you may be wondering, “can I sue the police for an injury?”

Can I Sue the Police for an Injury?

In California, victims of police misconduct may file a civil action against the department or individual officer involved. The claims most commonly leading to a lawsuit include:

  • Battery
  • False arrest
  • False imprisonment
  • Wrongful death
  • Defamation

California tort law allows victims to sue for violation of their constitutional rights under the First, Fourth, and Eighth Amendments. United States Code (section 1983) permits victims to file a civil lawsuit against government agencies if the victim can prove the following:

  • That his or her constitutional rights were violated
  • That the perpetrator was someone acting “under color of law”, such as a police officer
  • That the government agency in question does not have immunity from liability.

Important Considerations

If you are considering suing the police for an injury, there are a few important things you should consider, such as:

  • Police officers often have qualified immunity from personal injury claims, so you must prove that the officer’s actions were unreasonable, or were in violation of your rights.
  • You must file a claim with the government agency first, before filing claims against individuals.
  • Most claims involving police officers are settled outside of court.
  • You should hire a personal injury attorney before attempting any sort of claim against a police officer.

Contact the personal injury attorneys at Sunset West Legal Group, P.C. to learn more.