Does It Make Sense To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against The Police?


Police fatally shot 965 people in 2015, and while most of these involved a person with a weapon, a person who was suicidal or had mental illness, or a person who ran when instructed not to, in about 4 percent of cases, unarmed people who don't fit one of these categories are killed by police. 

Of course, a police officer can also kill someone without shooting them. In St. Paul, Minn., an officer accidentally struck a 101-year-old woman with his patrol car. While no one means for such an event to take place, law enforcement officials bear a greater responsibility because of their charge of keeping the public safe.

Challenges of Filing a Wrongful Death Suit Against Police

While police are employed to protect the community, they are human and can make mistakes. But a wrongful death accusation against a police officer or department can be hard to prove in court, as some juries are likely to believe and trust officers' accounts over the victims' story. 

In fact, one study in Washington state found that while members of the general public who are accused of crimes get convicted about 68 percent of the time, police officers in a similar situation are convicted only about 33 percent of the time.

You will have to weigh the facts of the case and advice from a qualified attorney to decide if it makes sense to file a lawsuit against law enforcement. It can be challenging to file such a suit, but there is the added social importance of exposing police misconduct and helping to prevent a true case of what is essentially malpractice from happening again.

Steps to Take in Filing a Lawsuit

If a loved one has been killed by an on-duty police officer, you may have a legitimate case that's worth pursuing. The initial steps to take in starting a suit are similar to other wrongful death suits:

  1. Locate an attorney who specializes in wrongful death and malpractice lawsuits and discuss your case with them to see if you have a chance of success.
  2. Gather all documentation. When police are involved, this may involve filing paperwork to access their reports, video or audio recordings and witness information. There will also be records from internal investigations within the department that may take time to become available. You'll also need medical records and a death certificate. Your attorney can advise you on additional documentation that may prove helpful.
  3. Be prepared to discuss a settlement. In cases where the police are likely at fault, city officials may be willing to quickly settle rather than go to court. 

There are many instances of cases against law enforcement agencies being settled with multi-million-dollar payouts. While financial compensation cannot make up for the loss of a loved one, it can help to cover expenses associated with that person's death, including lost wages. Talk to a lawyer who specializes in wrongful death cases to learn more.


13 April 2016

why you need to hire an attorney

Over the years, I have learned several lessons the most difficult ways possible. One lesson that I have learned is to never try to handle legal issues without legal representation working with you. I have faced fines and penalties that could have been greatly reduced had I hired an attorney to represent me in court. This blog will show you several ways you could benefit from paying for the legal fees associated with hiring an attorney anytime a legal issue may arise. You will also find examples of how things can go terribly wrong if you don't hire an attorney.