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Personal Injury law pertains to any and all civil lawsuits brought about by negligence or wrongful conduct by an adverse party that resulted in the injury of a person. The injuries could be physical or emotional and mental. More often than not, these cases do not involve criminal implications and therefore there is no prosecution. Normally, these are cases between two private people, one seeking compensation and the other, the party at fault, seeking means to provide as little compensation as possible, if not zero compensation.
While police and other government officials are protected by governmental immunity, this does not mean that civilians cannot file a civil lawsuit against them when the need for it arises.
For police officials, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in the event that they exercised too much force on you or on someone you know.
While they are given right to proceed with force, this privilege is set within boundaries and limits of the law. They have to comply requirements and procedures, before assessing the level of physical force that they could exercise on someone. If they neglect these limits and inflict physical pain on someone, despite their immunity, and if truly guilty, they can be filed for a personal injury lawsuit and the victim can rightfully claim compensation, depending on the damage caused by the battery or assault.
However, for your lawsuit to stand, it has to be clear that the police officer violated the terms that comprise a personal injury lawsuit.
The most warranted reason for claiming personal injury is the act of negligence of one party, in this case the police officer, that resulted in the injury of the other party or the victim. Given this, a definite scope of negligence is established. Negligence in these cases are based on its doctrine, and that is, that everyone is required to act responsibly and avoid putting others at risk. But this does not mean that every time someone gets hurt, someone is liable. That is why if you plan to file this against a police officer, it must be evident that your injuries were caused by the officer’s actions, and not because of your actions i.e., assaulting the officer first, failing to cooperate if in an investigation, etc.
It is important when battling cases like this against people with a certain level of immunity, that you hire a good lawyer. It is best to look for lawyers with great reputation and high winning percentage on similar cases. I suggest you look up Sides, Oglesby, Held, Dick, Stephens and Clay, a law firm with highly qualified lawyers, experts in exactly this kind of legal problem, and many more. If you hire a personal injury lawyer from them, they will likely win your case.
The amount of compensation you can get depends on the gravity of the damages. This can be guided through presentation of payments for the repair of the damages as well as the standard value of damaged items, in cases when properties are also destroyed. Then there are also the hospital bills and other cost of medication. When the injury caused the victim to lose his ability to perform his work duties, a more serious compensation shall be penalized upon the party at fault.
If you seek it, justice will always prevail, even against dirty cops. You just have to be brave enough and wise enough to arm yourself with the right legal knowledge and the right help from experts.
Last January 2014, Darren Baptiste launched his app called CopWatch, an iPhone app that seeks to help people record incidents of police-citizen interactions and have them uploaded straight to the Internet and automatically alert Network for the Elimination of Police Violence, a Toronto-based activist/police watchdog group, about the video’s existence.
How the App Worked in the Real-World
As if expecting a year of police violence, the app was put to use in July as a copy in New York held Eric Garner in a banned chokehold, while the latter protested “I can’t breathe”. Garner’s friend filmed the incident using his cellphone from a few feet away. Little did he know, he was actually filming his friend’s death. The world took notice as NBA players and celebrities wear statement shirts of “I can’t breathe” supporting the family of Garner, and showing their dismay of what many consider as a hate crime and prejudice against blacks. This is just one of the many times the app videos went viral and really stirred the consciousness of our society.
Last month, another unarmed black man was killed by a white cop, and it was caught on tape. The video was longer and shows the confrontation clearer and closer than any the world has ever seen. The video shows a South Carolina cop Michael Slager firing at 50-year old Walter Scott as he run away from the scene. At first, Slager claimed he had to shoot Scott, as he was afraid for his life as the latter commandeered the Taser during after what is supposed to be a routine traffic stop gone bad. The leaked video was recorded by Feiden Santana, a 23-year old who stood behind the chain-link fence to record the incident. The video clearly contradicts Slager’s statement as the video shows how he shot Scott from behind eight times as he runs away from him. When Scott hits the ground the cop then handcuffs his lifeless wrist. He then run to retrieve an object, and then dropped it near Scott’s lifeless body. The video was published in the New York Times.
These videos simply encourage more people to document police-civilian interactions with their mobile phones and make solid evidences without risking their lives.
Other Similar Apps
Joining the league of mobile police watchdogs are the Mobile Justice, which is a free Android app developed by local ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in Nebraska, Mississippi, Missouri, and Oregon. The app works by recording videos and automatically saving the media file to a zip file and send them straight to local ACLU branches.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is also developing an app called the International Evidence Locker. The app seeks to help people record video evidence of abuse, encrypt it, and then send the file straight to human rights organizations.
The main features of all these apps is simple, they aide in the recording of the incidents and quickly send the video file from the witness’ mobile phone to the public sphere. Cops may be able to confiscate witnesses’ mobile phones, but they can never delete the evidence. It’s a great way to discourage police misbehavior and provide evidence against them should they cross the line.
Police’s abuse of authority is a prevalent problem not just in United States, but all over the world. Police violence is a serious issue that our community faces every day, and retaliation from such actions causes more divisions in our communities rather than solving the problem. This is where the importance of having police watchdog groups gets into the picture – to call for Police accountability and to teach the people on the streets of their rights and how they can contribute stop the prejudice and violence.
Watch Efforts Work
Though victims are always encouraged to report their experience of police misconduct to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, many don’t report their incidents as they feel disenchanted with the process. We can’t blame these people, because after all, we don’t know who can actually “police” the police and hold them accountable for their actions.
However, with the help of technology, people today are more empowered against police violence than they think they are. An incident in Washington Heights in 2013 for example, shows a police officer pushing his forearm against the throat of a young man he was attempting to subdue. After bystanders started recording the arrest, the cop backed down a bit. Loyda Colon, co-director of Justice Committee said that the bottom line of Police Watch is about making people safer whenever police are interacting within the community. “It’s a preventative measure” she said.
Colon emphasized the Justice Committee is not against the police, per se. “We want the police to know that we are NOT anti-cop.” She exclaimed. “But we are anti-bad cop.”
Justice Through the Lens
In April 4, 2015, South Carolina Office Michael Slagger shot and killed Walter Scott in North Charleston. The incident happened when Slagger allegedly pulled over Scott for a broken tail light at the corner of Craig and Remount roads. A cellphone video recorded by an eye witness came after, bringing justice to the victim. This is how filming of police by civilians can shed some light in unlawful acts committed by police officers.
How to Record Legally
Mark Gaber, a professor in constitutional law at the University of Maryland said “You can film police on duty as long as you’re not interfering with their activities.” As you can see, there’s a keyword “interfering” in his statement, and this is where the issue of legality can become confusing to both police and civilians.
Graber said that what makes ‘interfering with police duties’ is very unclear, not just for the public, but for police officers as well. “This strikes me as an issue that within five years is likely to be a Supreme Court decision.” Graber added.
There are indeed, a lot of gray areas in determining how far eyewitnesses should stand and use his camera and not get in the way of the police. Most of the time, people get too close to the scene when recording, that they are distracting police officers. And sometimes, police officers can’t tell the difference between a camera and a weapon because of the rising tension of the situation.
Though videos are not going to solve the problem with our justice system, it’s a great eye-opening tool for people to know just how much abuse takes place out there.