You have a right to protest. If you were injured while exercising that right, the Philadelphia police brutality lawyers at Gay & Chacker will stand by you. We offer free initial consultations to anyone who was harmed while protesting or demonstrating. Call us at (215) 567-7955 for advice.
Law enforcement is there to protect our communities. However, shocking reports of police brutality during recent protests has underscored a serious issue that’s happening around the country. Officers’ use of excessive force and weapons against demonstrators has led to injuries, deaths, and civil rights violations that never should have happened. We urge victims to take legal action to hold those officers accountable and send a message that abusing their power is unacceptable.
Injuries at Protests & Why They Are Happening
During the 2020 civil rights protests – many of which were peaceful – law enforcement used tactics to try to break up the demonstrations. The video footage and photos are shocking. Officers have physically shoved demonstrators and knocked them down. A police vehicle drove toward a crowd to push them backwards. In many cities, officers used what they call “nonlethal” or “less-lethal” weapons, such as:
- Tear gas
- Pepper balls and spray
- Rubber bullets
- Bean bag rounds
These weapons are dangerous, even if the PD says they are not lethal. People all over the country have suffered severe injuries while attending protests, such as:
- Broken bones, internal bleeding, and bruising
- Head injuries, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries
- Burns, shortness of breath, and spike in blood pressure from tear gas
In Philadelphia, tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray have hurt many protestors in recent weeks. “This brutality has brought shame to Philadelphia,” City Councilmembers said in a statement asking the city and Philadelphia Police Department to prohibit weapon use during future demonstrations. Other cities have seen the same issue. A woman in Florida suffered a fractured eye socket from an officer’s foam rubber bullet. At another demonstration, a man shot with a rubber bullet fell to the ground, hit his head, and was in critical condition. Some people even lost their lives during these violent altercations.
Hiring a Lawyer for Protest Injuries & Civil Rights Violations
If your civil rights have been violated – whether by physical force or in another way – you have a right to seek justice through a civil lawsuit. For example, if a police officer hurt you during a protest, the law allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit against that person as well as the police department and any other responsible party. That claim sometimes extends to the local government. However, claims against the government can be especially challenging, because different rules and time limits often apply.
When you want to pursue a civil rights violation claim, it’s important to seek the help of a law firm that is experienced in this complex area of the law. Each state limits the time you have to take legal action, so the sooner you speak with an experienced lawyer, the better.
Complex Civil Rights Lawsuits Are on the Rise
Police brutality cases are inherently complicated. As law enforcement officers are government employees, they do have some “qualified immunity” from certain lawsuits. However, all is not lost for people who suffered civil rights violations and/or injuries when a police officer hurt them. An attorney who understands the law and victims’ rights can face these complexities and still work to maximize a victim’s compensation and the impact of a lawsuit.
Protestors may also face issues with health insurers if they try to file a claim for their injuries. For example, some insurance policies contain language involving “riots” under exceptions and exclusions:
“Services and supplies that you receive from providers as a result of an injury from ‘your participation in a riot’. This means when you take part in a riot in any way such as inciting, or conspiring to incite, the riot. It does not include actions that you take in self-defense as long as they are not against people who are trying to restore law and order.”
Because there is no clear definition of “riot” in the policy language, individuals may find out that they do not have insurance coverage for injuries they sustained at a protest.
Speak with a Lawyer for Injured Demonstrators
The Philadelphia lawyers at Gay & Chacker are offering free legal consultations to those who suffered injuries and civil rights violations during protests. We have supported clients in cases involving police brutality and assault for more than 40 years.
In one case, our client, a 37-year-old man, was stopped by uniformed police officers who were suspicious that he was dealing narcotics. The officers punched and kicked our client in the head. As a result of this brutal attack, his left eye had to be surgically removed, and he continues to have blurred vision in his right eye. While nothing can change what happened, our firm obtained a trial verdict of $900,000 for our client. In another case, Gay & Chacker represented a man who was assaulted by two Philadelphia police officers. The assault led him to sustain physical injuries in addition to pain and suffering and emotional distress. Our firm was able to obtain an $82,500 settlement for him. Each of our clients and cases is different, but one fact remains. The actions of law enforcement harmed our client, and we prevailed for them in seeking justice and compensation.
If you were injured while protesting, we welcome you to contact us for advice. There is absolutely no obligation or cost when you call us. An experienced attorney will answer your legal questions and explain the next steps toward getting justice.
Frequently Asked Questions About Protest Injuries
Below are answers to a few common questions about police brutality and protest injuries.
Do I have to be injured to file a lawsuit?
No. You can file a lawsuit if a police officer violated your civil rights in another way. Non-injury-related violations include things like the following:
- Racial profiling
- Surveillance abuse
- Torture to obtain false confessions
- Malicious prosecution
- Wrongful convictions
- False arrest
- Illegal pat down or body cavity searches
Abuse of police power is illegal. We welcome you to contact Gay & Chacker for advice, even if you’re not sure that what happened to you is a civil rights violation. There is no fee or obligation when you call us for an initial consultation.
What would filing a personal injury lawsuit accomplish?
First, filing a lawsuit can seek compensation for the medical bills resulting from the incident. In addition, it’s a powerful tool to send a message that police brutality is reprehensible. Winning a lawsuit holds parties accountable for their actions and can help stop something similar from happening in the future.
What if my incident didn’t happen in Philadelphia? Can Gay & Chacker still help me?
Most of our attorneys and staff are native Philadelphians who have served the Mid-Atlantic for more than 50 years. We represent people in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and the surrounding areas. If your incident happened elsewhere, we may still be able to help. Feel free to contact us for advice.