The thought of suing the government is daunting, but to make the task less daunting, Congress passed Title 42 of the United States Code, which is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. A particular section of this law—namely, Section 1983—a allows an individual to sue a government official, employee or agent who violates his or her constitutional rights.
Of course, initiating legal action against any government entity or agent can be complex. It is important to speak with a skilled attorney so that you can get the guidance you need throughout the process.
What Does Section 1983 Cover?
Section 1983 claims are available as a means to obtain relief for a range of constitutional violations, which include the following:
- False arrest;
- False imprisonment;
- Use of excessive force by the police;
- Police brutality;
- Malicious prosecution;
- Unequal application of laws that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or other protected class;
- Depriving one of due process; and
- Unlawfully taking one’s property.
Who Can You Sue for a 1983 Violation?
A 1983 suit can only be pursued against a “person,” which means, for example, you cannot sue the state of New York or the U.S. Government because neither is a person. However, under Section 1983, you can sue a municipality or local government which are deemed to be persons within the meaning of this law. That may be a bit confusing but is not uncommon in law; the state of New York is not a person, but a local municipality or local government in New York is for purposes of this law.
Elements of a 1983 Claim
In order to succeed in a 1983 claim, you must show that you were denied rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution or federal law and that this denial of rights harmed you in some way.
A typical 1983 case involves denial or violation of one’s due process rights. Due process guaranteed in the United States constitution provides that the government cannot take your life, liberty, or property without notice or opportunity to appear at an appropriate hearing. The government must make a case that shows why it is appropriate to take your life, liberty or property, and you must have the chance to defend yourself.
Besides showing violation of your federally protected constitutional right, you must also show some harm caused by the violation. You also must show that the person you are suing, not the city or municipality, caused the harm in the course of doing his or her job, such as implementing or executing a policy, local rule, ordinance, custom and so on.
In other words, your 1983 claim must be brought against an individual working for the municipality, not the municipality itself. The municipality cannot be held liable but the individual can, if you show that they have violated your federally guaranteed right.
NYC Lawyer for 1983 Claims
At JOEY JACKSON LAW, PLLC, we are experienced in handling 1983 claims, which are often extremely complicated. Our objective is to evaluate the facts in your individual case and determine the best way forward in securing your rights and getting you proper compensation for violations that have caused you harm. To benefit from our experience and get what you deserve, contact a skilled New York civil rights litigation attorney at 1-833-JOEYJACKSON or 1-833-563-9522 today.