Personal Injury: Prison Liability for Inmate Attacks
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Can the Government be Held Liable for Personal Injuries to a Prison Inmate as a Result of Other Inmates?
Yes. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows federal prisoners to sue the government for personal injuries caused by fellow inmates. Likewise, many state governments have adopted variations of the FTCA to allow state prisoners to sue for their personal injuries as well. The FTCA’s bypass of government immunity allows courts to apply the reasonable care standard common in many personal injury claims.
What is the Reasonable Care Standard for Prisons?
Most courts require that prisons use the judgment of an “ordinary and prudent person” when enforcing and maintaining the safety of inmates. While this seems like an ambiguous standard, it is important to note that many state statutes explain this reasonable care standard in more detail. Also, any violation of a prisoner’s civil rights under 42 USCA § 1983 is understood as a violation of reasonable care.
Some common factors that appear in various states’ reasonable care statutes include:
- Prison officials’ knowledge of an anticipated danger to inmate (required in almost all states)
- Previous similar incidents of inmate attacks
- Prison official’s relative control over attacking inmate’s actions
- Location of attack
- Duration of attack before prison official intervention
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
If you are a federal or state prisoner who was injured by another inmate, you should contact an attorney experienced in criminal law or prisoner's rights to determine any claims you may have against any state or federal governments. A criminal lawyer can help determine what your state’s reasonable care standards for prisons are, and any civil rights violations stemming from your injury.
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Last Modified: 04-22-2011 03:54 PM PDT
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