Visitor Question

Injury caused by jail staff?

Submitted By: Sonia (Globe, AZ, USA)

I’m submitting a question on behalf of an inmate who is currently being held at Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix, AZ. A couple of days ago, when he was taken into custody, the jail infirmary attempted to treat his high blood pressure. He reports that they “overdosed” him with at least 3 pills and he lost consciousness.

He was semi-conscious when the detention officers were taking him by wheelchair to a jail transport vehicle. They tipped over the wheelchair and he fell out and sustained a knee injury. He is currently unable to walk on it and is currently in a wheelchair. We want to know if anyone can be held liable for this injury? Thank you.

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.


Dear Sonia,

Unfortunately, unless you have clear and unequivocal proof the detention officers purposely and with intent to injure the inmate, toppled the wheelchair over, Maricopa County officials will not be civilly or criminally liable for the inmate’s knee injury.

Maricopa County, like other state, county, municipal, and federal agencies enjoys “sovereign immunity.” Sovereign immunity means governmental agencies and their employees are immune and insulated from personal injury lawsuits.

There is some good news. While most governmental agencies enjoy sovereign immunity, they frequently agree to waive their immunity and permit injured persons to file personal injury claims. These types of claims are referred to as “governmental tort claims.” To pursue a claim, the inmate must file a “Notice of Claim” against Maricopa County. You can get the Notice of Claim form here.

Once filed, Maricpoa County must respond to the claim within 90 days. At that time the claim will be denied or accepted. If accepted, the inmate will be contacted by an official from the Maricopa County Risk Management Division. From there the claim will be further investigated. Upon a finding of negligence, the inmate’s medical bills may be paid, and he or she may receive an additional but meager amount for pain and suffering.

While the time limit for the inmate to file his or her claim is 90 days, that time period can be waived by Maricpoa County upon a finding the inmate was debilitated or otherwise unable to file the claim within the requisite period.

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: June 15, 2017

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