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 inmates do have the right to seek recourse against acts of negligence. 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 lawsuit.
What is the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act and How Does it Affect an Inmate’s Right to Sue?
The Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (PLRA for short) places restrictions on the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit 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 lawsuit 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 if the policy was requested and the facility was unable to produce it or if 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.
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 state has its own process for that.
What are Some Ways You Can Prove Your Negligence 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.
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!