Visitor Question

Broken Arm While Incarcerated…

Submitted By: Anonymous (Washington)

My arm was broken while I was in jail. Now that I’ve been released I can’t work because I still have a cast on. I’ll also need surgery on the arm.

I was not convicted of any crime at the time the injury happened, just being held. If I was attacked or slipped and fell who would be liable for the cost of medical care upon my release? How would I pursue compensation for my medical bills? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Under normal circumstances the party who detained you would be liable for your injuries. Unfortunately, the municipality or county where you were incarcerated probably is protected by “Sovereign Immunity.” Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine which insulates governmental entities from civil lawsuits. Exceptions would be if the governmental entity exercised gross negligence or wonton recklessness in the manner and form of your incarceration.

It’s possible you have a case, however claims against government entities shouldn’t be handled pro se (i.e. on your own without an attorney). Get a free consultation with a licensed attorney in your area as soon as possible. Statute of limitations laws for claims against the government are usually MUCH shorter than third party claims. They can be as short as 60 days!

If your injury was caused by an individual you certainly have the right to pursue a civil claim against that person. Because your injuries seem to be limited to a broken arm you may be able to pursue your claim against the person in small claims court. The small claims limits for the State of Washington is $5,000.00 dollars.

You can sue for the amount of your medical bills, your out of pocket expenses like prescription and over the counter medications, lost wages, and an amount for pain and suffering. If your claim is successful you will also be able to recover the lawsuit’s filing fees.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 18, 2013

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