Prisoners continue to have constitutional rights, even behind bars. Prisons are intended to be places for behavioral rehabilitation, reflection on previous mistakes, and places of reform. The reality is that prisons can be violent and unsafe due to negligence and abuse. Inmates who have suffered injury or abuse at the hands of correctional officers or prison authorities have the right to seek justice. Here are some tips for suing a prison for injury or abuse.
Common causes of injuries
When a person goes to prison, they lose some of their civil rights. They do still have the right to decent living conditions while incarcerated. If authorities fail to uphold standard living conditions, including health and safety protection, prisoners become at risk for injury. The following are some common prisoner injuries.
Slip and falls
Wet or uneven floors, spills, and walking while shackled can all lead to a slip-and-fall. Resulting injuries can include cuts, bruises, broken bones, and head injuries.
Assault by another inmate
Physical violence such as beatings and stabbings are common among inmates, as is sexual violence and abuse.
Excessive or unreasonable force can be considered abuse. Spiteful punishments, excessive restraints, inmate beatings, and using pepper spray when not warranted are examples of unreasonable force.
Subpar medical care
Medical incompetence can lead to further injury or death of prisoners when care is withheld or conditions are poorly treated.
Prison overpopulation quickly leads to poor hygiene, dirty cells, improper sterilization of beds, and dismal kitchen cleanliness. These factors all contribute to the spread of infections and sickness.
Overcrowded facilities managed by poorly-trained staff, lack of monitoring suicidal prisoners, and poor evacuation plans in case of fire can quickly lead to prisoner injury or death.
Proving a prison injury claim
Prisoners are not responsible for medical bills nor can they lose significant wages. The damages a prisoner can hope to win are for medical expenses following release, future lost wages, and pain and suffering.
To lodge a valid personal injury claim, a prisoner must prove three elements: 1) the prison breached its duty of care, 2) the prison either knew or should have known that injury was possible, and 3) the prison’s negligence resulted in confirmed injury.
Collecting evidence of these elements while in prison is not easy. Document the circumstances that led to injury by asking for photographic and video evidence. A compassionate guard, chaplain, social worker, or counselor may be willing to photograph the scene of injury. Getting a copy of video surveillance could be possible, but it is highly unlikely without a subpoena from an attorney.
Try to get written statements from prisoners or guards who can corroborate the circumstances that caused an injury. Fellow prisoners can also back up claims of dangerous conditions, especially if guards had been notified of the conditions before.
Polk county inmates can be searched on the Polk County inmate database. Information about inmates can also be found on Go Look Up. Simply input a person’s name into the search directory and find information such as booking date and where the inmate is being held. This could come in handy when looking for supporting evidence to back your case.
Any written requests a prisoner made to authorities notifying them of dangerous conditions or situations can serve as proof that prison officials knowingly failed to prevent prisoner injury. Request copies of medical records that link negligent care to injury.
Moore Law Firm has represented thousands of cases and has a wealth of personal injury insight. They have the experience and resources necessary to confidently negotiate and litigate personal injury claims and win victims the damages they deserve.