The Role of Personal Injury Lawsuits in Police Brutality Cases
If you’ve turned on the news over the past year (frankly, if you’ve been awake), you’ve undoubtedly heard of instances of alleged excessive use of force by law enforcement officers from California to Baltimore to South Carolina, just to name a few. In each of these cases, video footage has suggested police officers acting recklessly, or negligently, and thereby causing the injury or death of their victim, typically an individual suspected of having committed a non-violent crime.
Our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know that police officers serve to enforce the law; while that enforcement of the law sometimes involves actions against members of the community, the degree to which some officers use physical force in handling (or seemingly unilaterally punishing) civilians is appalling. Law enforcement officers receive salaries drawn from taxpayer money; they are to serve their communities, not intimidate, ostracize and abuse them.
From a legal standpoint, we’ve heard a lot about demands for the arrest and prosecution of police officers who inflict serious wounds on, or cause the wrongful death of, individuals with whom they’ve been involved in an altercation. Whether the case involves officers having viciously and gruesomely beaten a suspect who fled on horseback, or officers who allegedly roughly mishandled a suspect’s body such that his spine was nearly severed, or an officer who decided to gun down an unarmed individual fleeing on foot, the public has demanded accountability. In a court of criminal law, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, guilty police officers might very well face justice.
But what about the victims? Does having a police officer lose his or her job, pay hefty fines, or even spend time in prison ease the suffering of the victims and their families? Not quite. Here is where personal injury law comes into play. If someone has been brutalized by police officers such that they’ve sustained injuries, physical and/or emotional or mental, that person has a legal right to make a claim against the city (or local government body overseeing the applicable police department) for damages. If necessary, that person can file a lawsuit against the city, logically holding them liable for the actions of a police officer on their payroll.
Think about it like this: if you were viciously attacked by a construction worker who was paid to re-roof your house, you would absolutely be able to make a legal claim against the construction company because one of its workers, while on duty at the job he’s paid to do by the company for which he works, attacked you and caused you to suffer injuries. It’s the same idea with the police department and the government; the police officer(s) work for the government. If, acting in their capacity as police officers, they act recklessly or negligently and cause you to suffer injuries, then you can sue the city for their wrongdoing. (If someone has died due to their negligent actions, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, their family can file a wrongful death suit against the city.)
More often than not, municipalities settle with victims of police brutality; they do this to save money on trials and also to save their reputations – with video footage of obscene violence being committed by police officers, there’s little to put forward in terms of a legitimate defense. For example, the brutal beating by California’s San Bernardino County police officers of a suspect who fled on horseback was followed up with payment of $650,000 from the county to the victim. When someone has been wronged, they have the chance, and the right, to seek compensation from the liable party, even when that’s the government.
If you have any questions about this or any other personal injury issue, or if you’ve been injured due to the wrongdoing or negligence of anyone else, including a member of a law enforcement agency, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you.