Can I Sue the Police?

by attorneyscottcampbell

Can I Sue the Police? This is a question I am often asked.  The answer is yes, you can sue the police.  The bigger question is whether you will be successful.

Can I Sue the Police

Can I Sue the Police?

The government puts many obstacles in the way of suing the government or a government officer.  First, in a lawsuit in State court, the government says you cannot sue for certain things.  Basically, you cannot sue the government for making a certain policy or for deciding how to spend money.  In other words, if a police officer was following written policy, he is immune.  If a city doesn’t spend enough on staffing sufficient police officers, you can’t sue them for that decision.

Then there is something known as “qualified immunity.”  This takes two forms.  First, if a police officer does certain things (such as fails to make an arrest, an escaped prisoner harms you, rendering emergency care) unless the officer was “grossly negligent.”  Second, if an officer violates your rights, but that right is not sufficiently clear in the law, he may be immune from suit.

Another obstacle, if you are suing in State court, is the requirement that you serve the officer and his department with a Notice of Claim within 180 days of the incident.  Then there are other very strict deadlines.

If you want to sue in Federal Court, qualified immunity may still apply, but the 180-day notice deadline does not apply if you are suing under Federal law.

To be successful in suing the police, you must have some significant damages (not just hurt feelings) and a clear cause of action.  If that is the case, see a lawyer immediately so you don’t miss the very strict deadlines for action.

Can I Sue the Police?

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