Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the Police?

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Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the Police?

In very specific situations, wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against the police. Wrongful death cases are highly complicated and highly contentious.

The police are sworn to serve and protect the communities in which they patrol, and they often risk their own lives in the line of duty, which makes the matter more challenging still.

If you have a potential wrongful death case against police, consider having an experienced Anderson, South Carolina wrongful death attorney in your corner.

Wrongful Death Involving Police Excessive Force

Wrongful death cases are civil – rather than criminal – matters, and wrongful death by police cases are brought under the the South Carolina Tort Claims act and possibly the 1871 Civil Rights Act, which assigns responsibility to those who violate the constitutional rights of others when acting under color of a state’s laws.

The police are generally authorized to use whatever force is reasonably necessary to defend themselves or to make an arrest.

As such, wrongful death cases involving the police generally come down to a determination of whether or not the officer in question used more force than was reasonably necessary for the specific situation at hand.

For example, if the suspect resists arrest or threatens the officer with great bodily harm or death, greater force is permitted.

Limitations in Relation to the Use of Force

A Supreme Court ruling determined that the police cannot shoot suspects who are fleeing – unless doing so is necessary to prevent the suspect’s escape and there is reason to believe that they pose a significant threat.

Merely having probable cause to arrest someone, which affords the right to use some force, is not sufficient cause for using deadly force. The Constitution limits the amount of force the police can use in the course of an arrest, and the use of force that exceeds these limitations can lead to liability.

Police Wrongful Death Settlements

Losing a loved one to a police officer’s excessive force, brutality, recklessness, or any other kind of negligence is a tragedy that no amount of compensation can undo. A successful wrongful death claim, which can help you move forward with the grieving process, can address losses such as the following:

  • Lost income and financial support
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering, including mental anguish
  • Funeral and burial costs

In some instances – when the involved negligence is especially egregious – punitive damages that are designed to punish the at-fault party rather than to compensate the plaintiff are awarded.

Contact An Experienced South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney About a Wrongful Death Case Against Police

The Law Office of Steven M. Krause PA recognizes the gravity of wrongful death lawsuits against police and has the legal skill and insight to help guide your claim toward an advantageous outcome. We want to help your family continue to move forward on the path toward healing. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at 864-225-4000 today.


We help people like you every day.