Although it is possible, police are rarely found responsible for personal injuries due to their failure to help citizens. For example, suppose B has threatened to hurt A, and A reports this to the police. Even if the police fail to protect A, they still may not be held liable for any personal injury B inflicts on A.
Police generally only have a duty to protect the public at large. So while police can be held liable for failing to respond to a wild shootout in a public subway, they may not be held liable for someone who gets injured while their car is robbed. In other words, police have no duty to protect individual citizens from injury by others.
Courts generally do not want to hold anyone responsible, even police, for the criminal actions of another party. In most cases of personal injury, victims are more likely to sue a well-funded police agency rather than the person responsible for the crime. Allowing victims to do this would discourage local governments from providing extensive police protection to their citizens, due to the potential for increased liability.
A court may impose a duty to protect individual citizens if an individual can prove the following four elements:
In contrast, what if Y were to come out of the closet with a baseball bat? In this case, Y's attempt at self-defense takes away his justifiable reliance on police protection. This is different from Y hiding in the closet, since Y hasn't withheld his right to act by relying on 911's assurance that help is on the way.
If you are a victim of personal injury due to police inaction, your must challenge the general rule against law enforcement liability. As a result, it is extremely important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney, who can determine if your case qualifies under the preceding exception. An attorney can analyze your case under the four exceptions requirements, as well as take any steps needed before suing a law enforcement agency.
Last Modified: 03-01-2016 01:02 PM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
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