Can I File a Lawsuit Against Law Enforcement?

3Can I File a Lawsuit Against Law Enforcement?

If you get hurt because of another driver’s negligence, you can file a claim against that driver. But what happens in cases where the accident was caused by a police vehicle or due to a police pursuit? In those instances, you may wonder whether the officer, the police department, or the municipality itself may be liable for your damages. When someone is the victim of a negligent act, whether due to a vehicle accident or caused by some other type of action, that person should be allowed to seek compensation for their injuries. You can file these types of cases, but they can be complex. An experienced personal injury attorney will help you with your claim.


Tort Claims Act

In general, governmental agencies such as police departments, cities, and police officers, are considered immune under the sovereign immunity principle. This principle is in place to protect governmental officials from lawsuits and covers agencies and their representatives. However, there are both federal and state laws in place that allow the victim to pursue legal recourse against an agency or representative in cases where the employee was acting within their scope of employment.


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The Tort Claims Act is a federal law and North Carolina has its own Tort Claims Act as well. The North Carolina Tort Claims Act (NCTCA) governs liability claims against state departments and agencies. The laws allow for a victim to file a lawsuit against the government when the injury was caused by a state or federal employee while working within the guidelines of their job.


Negligence in Personal Injury Claims Against Police Officers

As with any personal injury case, the victim must be able to prove that the other party was negligent. This holds true for a lawsuit against a police officer. In order to bring a successful claim against a police officer, or other governmental representative, you must show that the police officer had a duty of care. One of the essential parts of a police officer’s job is to protect the public from harm. You must also show that the officer breached their duty of care and that the breach of duty caused harm. Finally, you must show that you had compensable damages due to the injury.



It is important to note that under North Carolina law, police officers are allowed to use whatever force is necessary when they perform their jobs. They can exert force in order to protect themselves or others, however, they cannot use excessive force. Therefore, if the police officer used excessive force and caused an injury, they would not be protected by sovereign immunity, and you could be allowed to file a lawsuit.


Personal Injury Claims Against Municipalities

In some cases, it may be appropriate for you to file a claim against a municipality such as a city. In these types of cases, you will need to show that the city had a duty of care and the victim was hurt as a result of an action by a governmental employee or while on municipal property. Again, the breach of duty of care resulted in injury and you suffered economic damages as a result. Sometimes, you may file a lawsuit against both the individual and the government agency. Personal injury claims are separate from criminal prosecution. Prosecutors will determine whether or not to bring criminal charges against the negligent party.


The process of filing a claim against a government agency, municipality, or police officer can be complex. You must follow specific procedures depending on whether the claim is based on a breach of Federal or state laws. It is also essential to file a claim within the appropriate statute of limitations. If you were hurt because of the negligence of a police officer, do not delay. Contact us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at (704) 370-2828 to request a consultation to discuss your injury.




The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.



excessive force | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (§ 143-291.,lieu of obligation under Article.


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