Visitor Question

Possible Correctional Institution Negligence…

Submitted By: Anastasia (Gray, GA, USA)

I was held for 10 hours in jail, and though I asked for a phone call immediately it was denied for 8 hours.

I take an anti-depressant with a dosage that must be strictly adhered to. I had the medication with me and informed officials immediately about my need for the medication.

Initially, when I asked about the medication they informed me that they did not stock the medication and would not give it to me. I asked if I could see a doctor to get the meds and they said, and I quote, “We could take you to a doctor, but we’re not going to.”

As the day went on, I began having severe symptoms from not taking my medication including “brain zaps,” disorientation and dizziness. This was repeatedly reported to staff and my medication was still denied, despite personal possession of the drug in its prescription bottle complete with pharmacy number and prescribing doctor’s name.

After being held for ten hours without being booked I went to use the bathroom, got up, headed to sit down and the next thing I knew a woman was standing over me asking my name and if I knew where I was.

It took me a few minutes to get my head together and when I did I asked what happened.

The official told me that they found me on the floor, I had urinated on myself, and they had performed a number of responsive tests which I failed for about 5-10 minutes.

Paramedics were called who basically insulted me, accused me of being a liar, told me they couldn’t find my head injury and that a knot on my head was the “natural curvature of the skull.”

They did not look for a laceration and claimed that I had simply laid down on the floor.

I asked how this was known and one of the EMT’s responded, “Because they were watching you.”

I responded that if someone was watching, then that person could come and tell me what had happened as I had no idea.

When the official came he then admitted that nobody had seen anything and they had concluded that I laid down on the floor because if I had actually fallen someone would have heard something.

While he was saying this another inmate interjected that he had personally witnessed my fall and summoned officials.

I was not taken for treatment or examination.

The jail nurse was summoned who was very professional. She did indeed confirm a head injury and laceration, and concluded I probably fell as a result of being denied meds.

She instructed officials to give me my medication, gave me a bottle of water, saw to it that I was constantly hydrated and given peanuts as she believed I had a low sodium content and needed something with high salt content.

After she left, officials waited an hour before giving me my medication and then only gave me half my dose.

They never provided me water or peanuts as instructed.

When released the next day I was still suffering from severe dizziness and had to pay for an MRI and X-rays out-of-pocket to have myself examined. Doctors concluded I had a concussion and documented all results. Since that time I continued to suffer from dizziness, I cannot drive, and I experience other symptoms that interfere with my daily activities.

Does the behavior of the correctional institution staff constitute negligence? Is there anything I can do to get reimbursed for my medical expenses? Also, what can I do to report these staff so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again? Thanks for any information you can provide.

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 Anastasia,

From the facts you present, it appears some type of negligence occurred. With all the people involved it’s difficult to asses primary responsibility. You should contact the State of Georgia Attorney General’s Office. They are the investigating agency for allegations of governmental employee negligence.

Unfortunately the local jail and jail guards are protected by what is legally referred to as “sovereign immunity.” Sovereign immunity means governmental employees are immune from liability involving civil allegations of negligence.

There are some exceptions. In your case the exception would occur if you are able to prove the guards had a reckless disregard for your health and safety, or were grossly negligent. From the facts, it doesn’t appear your circumstances rise to that level.

You might want to consult with a personal injury attorney. Most don’t charge for initial office consultations. Unfortunately they may tell you the same thing. Governmental employees are insulated by sovereign immunity.

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: March 1, 2013

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