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Can you sue the police for wrongful death?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2022 | Personal Injury |

It is the job of law enforcement officers to protect the people in their communities. When someone dies because of the actions of law enforcement, the family of the deceased person may seek compensation.

However, there are barriers to filing a wrongful death case against the police in Ohio.

Qualified immunity

Ohio law makes some members of law enforcement immune from liability for injuries or deaths caused by actions that person took while serving in their official capacity as a law enforcement officer. This law protects police who must make quick decisions in high-risk situations that could result in the death of another person.

Wrongful death suits

Plaintiffs who believe that an officer acted negligently or maliciously may pursue a state wrongful death claim. If the plaintiff believes the officer violated the deceased person’s civil rights they may file a federal claim. In some cases, the plaintiffs may file both a state and federal claim.

Federal wrongful death claims

Federal law says that police officers who violate the constitutional rights of a person who they injured or killed may be liable for civil damages, even if state law provides qualified immunity. Commonly cited civil rights violations include excessive force and denial of medical care. Plaintiffs may sometimes sue the city or state responsible for maintaining the police force if they believe improper training or department policies contributed to the wrongful death.

Because police officers have more latitude when it comes to the use of deadly force than ordinary citizens, it can be difficult to prove a wrongful death case against the police. However, if police officers violated the deceased person’s constitutional rights or acted maliciously or negligently they may be liable for damages.