If you believe police caused injuries, or violated your civil rights, how do you sue the police for compensation?
The answer isn’t as simple as you may think. Because police are government employees, they may be able to claim immunity from being sued for performing their official duties — unless you can prove their conduct was intentionally unreasonable.
Even if you feel your case is strong, some additional steps are required before you can sue the police. Here are some general guidelines:
1. File a government tort claim.
Before you even begin work on a potential lawsuit against the police, you generally must give the police — or, usually, the local government in charge of the police — notice of your claim, and a chance to respond.
Most cities and local jurisdictions provide a standard form, called a Tort Claim or a Government Tort Claim, for people who seek compensation from police for an injury. The form must be submitted within a certain time period after the injury occurs.
2. Wait for the government’s response.
State and local laws dictate how long the city or local jurisdiction has to respond to your claim. If the government responds with a settlement offer, you may want to consult an attorney to help negotiate a resolution to your satisfaction.
But if the government rejects your claim, or fails to respond within the allotted time, then you can generally proceed with a full-fledged lawsuit.
3. Consult an attorney.
By suing the police, you’ll likely be up against the city’s own experienced attorneys, or lawyers under contract by the city. Those attorneys are well-versed in laws about how to sue police — a process that can involve expert witnesses, multiple medical exams, and a potentially lengthy trial.
That’s why it’s probably wise to find your own attorney when you sue the police for an injury. A local lawyer can also help file your tort claim, to get your case off on the right foot.