Can You Sue a Jail For Negligence?

Incarcerated individuals lose a majority of the usual American freedoms. But the laws and the Constitutional amendments still remain the same, whether you are behind bars or not. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution forbids any acts or behaviors that are considered cruel or unusual punishment. This Amendment does not exclude anyone which means that an inmate does have the right to seek recourse against acts of prison neglect. However, inmates must still follow the rules and regulations of their facility which makes filing a personal injury claim a lot harder. Representation from a personal injury lawyer for prisoners will understand and be very familiar with the additional hoops that need to be jumped to file a successful claim.

At the Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C., our prison personal injury attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the rights of all, including those who are currently within New York jails. If you have been abused or sustained injuries while in the system, you have the right to have experienced legal counsel. Call now to schedule a personal consultation for free: (212) 843-0907.

What is the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act and How Does it Affect an Inmate’s Right to Sue?

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA for short) places restrictions on the ability to file a personal injury claim for negligence. The PLRA states that inmates who have a complaint or grievance must first try to have the issue resolved within the policies and procedures of the facility and if it can be proven that the process of doing so failed, only then can a suit be filed. Policies and procedures vary from facility to facility and there are no regulatory guidelines in place for how the policies and procedures should be. This means that it is up to the facility’s discretion on how simple or complicated the process for filing a grievance may be. But the policies must be made available to all inmates. So when the policy was requested and the facility was unable to produce it or when it can be proven that it is unattainable to follow the policy, then it can be allowable for a personal injury claim to be made.

Qualified Immunity

Qualified immunity is protection for government officials, such as prison guards and other prison staff, against lawsuits alleging that they violate the rights of plaintiffs. However, it only allows suits against officials who violate “clearly established” constitutional or statutory rights. In determining whether a right was “clearly set”, courts look at whether a hypothetical reasonably informed official would have known that the defendant’s conduct was in violation of the plaintiff’s legal rights. The law applicable at the time of the alleged violation is used by courts in this analysis, not the law applicable when they consider the case.

Qualified immunity does not provide immunity from the need to pay damages but immunity from having any trial costs. Courts must decide qualified immunity issues early on in a case, preferably before discovery.

Qualified immunity applies only to lawsuits against government officials as individuals and not against the government for damages resulting from their actions. Qualified immunity is often used in cases involving police officers but it also applies to most executive branch officials. Qualified immunity is not available to judges, prosecutors, and legislators. However, many are protected by other immunity doctrines.

If you or a loved one was injured while incarcerated, contact the Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C. You may be eligible for compensation, and our experienced personal injury lawyers will be able to assist in your case. You can contact us by email at or by phone at (212) 843-0907.

What’s the Biggest Difference Between an Inmate Suing For Negligence vs a Free Individual?

When a free individual is suing for negligence, a claim is typically made against the insurance of that person or entity. Employees of a state or federal incarceration facility are protected from being sued through government qualified immunity. Injury claims for inmates must file their suit following the procedures of The Federal Tort Claims Act (or FTCA). If an inmate is in a privately owned and operated facility, then the employees of that facility may not have government qualified immunity but the personal injury would still be a tort claim and each of the states has its own process for that.

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

Private citizens may file injury claims directly with neglectful parties’ insurance companies, but inmates have to file their claims via federal tort claim processes. While federal prison authorities have qualified immunity, inmates may challenge that immunity when it comes to injuries sustained by prisoners because of prison neglect.

A Standard Form 95 is required to start your injury claim. This is your notice of claim that you intend to sue the federal government for damages. The deadline for filing your claim for sustained injuries in a holding facility or federal prison is two years from when the injuries were inflicted.

A prison inmate must file a claim for injury to the Department of Justice (DOJ). You get paid if the DOJ accepts your claim for damages. You have six months to hire a lawyer and file a claim if the DOJ rejects your claim for damages.

The six-month period starts on the day that the department denies your claim and not on the date you were injured. You can find the forms necessary to file lawsuits in the prison library. Only federal prison inmates have access to the FTCA.

If you were injured while incarcerated and would like legal assistance to sue a prison for negligence, the Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C. is here to help. We will provide you with a skilled personal injury lawyer to guide you every step of the way. You can call us today at (212) 843-0907 to schedule a personal consultation for free.

Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits that Inmates File

Inmates may file lawsuits for many reasons as long as qualified immunity does not apply and the claim can be proven to be valid. There are some types of lawsuits, however, that are more common than others.

Wrongful death

The Constitution of the United States states that prisons, jails, and detention centers must not pose unnecessary risks to the safety or health of those in custody. They have to assure that safety and security measures are in place to ensure the wellbeing of those they supervise and care for. Officials who fail to ensure the safety and welfare of prisoners, pre-trial detainees, or inmates, can be held responsible for their actions leading to death. These misconducts can include failing or failing to provide medication or properly administer it, failing to protect an inmate from violent inmates, failing to monitor a suicide watch, and other examples.

Injuries from guards, or other prison or jail staff

While correctional officers and prison guards are not immune to the law, it can be difficult to hold them responsible for their actions behind bars. There are many laws and policies that protect prison guards. They have the right to do what they want while on duty. However, these rules shouldn’t interfere with your civil rights or your right to be free from abuse and other physical harm. You can sue prison guards for using excessive force, assault, or sexual assault against you while you were in a correctional institution.

Not providing medical care

The Eighth Amendment mandates that prisoners and people in the custody of police officers receive adequate medical care. This has been ruled by the Supreme Court. Many prisoners are neglected in their medical care, which can lead to injury, illness, or death. The Constitution guarantees that you have the right to proper medical treatment while under police custody. You are entitled to compensation if you were denied medical treatment.

Medical malpractice

A medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed against a doctor or health care provider if neglectful care results in injury to a patient. Medical malpractice suits do not only target hospitals and doctors. If negligent medical care leads to an inmate’s injury, death, or other damages, a claim can be brought against the prison and the private correctional hospital care provider.

At the Law Office Of David S. Leigh P.C., we do more than just file your personal injury claim in court. Our experience includes everything from car accidents to slip and falls, but we apply the same approach to civil and personal injury litigation. If you or a loved one was injured while in a New York jail, we can provide you with an experienced personal injury lawyer who may fight for your rights. You do not have to fight alone. To schedule a personal consultation for free, you can call us at (212) 843-0907.

What Are Some Ways You Can Prove Your Prison Neglect Case?

Gathering sufficient evidence for a negligence claim proves to be another very difficult task for those behind bars. Most facilities prohibit access to any kind of cellular device, making it difficult to capture any kind of photographic evidence of a scene or of the injuries, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. All prison and jail facilities have surveillance cameras to constantly monitor all activity round the clock, but it isn’t likely that security footage will easily be handed over without the intervention of an attorney and an order from a judge. Submitting kites (a written request or notification) to inform authorities of the facility of dangerous situations is helpful documentation that can be used as evidence as well as requests for medical attention and the medical records created for any kind of treatment.

Do I need an Attorney to Represent Me?

The right to sue without the assistance of an attorney is known as “pro se”. However, inmates may face certain obstacles when suing a jail or a prison. Therefore, it is important to consider hiring an experienced lawyer.

A number of nonprofit organizations can represent prisoners free or at a reduced cost. If you have a good chance of winning your lawsuit, an attorney might take your case on a contingency-fee-basis. This means that the lawyer will receive a percentage from your award if your case succeeds. If your party loses, the attorney won’t charge you for any fees.

New York Civil Rights Lawyer, David S. Leigh, P.C., is a Seasoned Attorney Experienced With Defending The Rights Of Prisoners.

If you are serving a sentence in a New York jail or prison, you still have the right to have protection against unsafe or unhealthy environments or conditions, excessive force, and assault. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury while imprisoned, schedule a free consultation today!

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