Visitor Question

Denied proper medical treatment in county jail and federal prison…

Submitted By: A (New York)

My husband is currently serving time in OH in a federal prison. He is due to be released in the upcoming months. In early 2013 he hurt his hand while still being held in a county jail in NY. Although he was seen by a doctor there numerous times, they never gave his hand the attention it needed.

Now he is told the only way to fix his hand is with surgery. They told him he is better off waiting until after he is released so that he can have it done at a “better” care facility that specializes in the repair.

He wants me to find out if he possibly has a case of neglect against the jail, seeing as they failed to give him the proper treatment.

Does he have a case against the county jail for initial lack of treatment, or against the federal prison for continued lack of treatment? Is there anything we can do? Also, how long does someone have to file a claim against a prison for an injury? Thank you in advance.

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 A,

County, State and federal prison systems generally enjoy a form of “sovereign immunity” from criminal prosecution and civil actions. This means mistakes made by jail or prison personnel, or personnel acting at their behest, are generally not actionable by those claiming to be victims of such mistakes.

In your husband’s case, the mistake made appears to be lack of treatment, or improper medical treatment. As such, it is unlikely your husband has a meritorious case.

There are exceptions to sovereign immunity. When those exceptions exist, victims may be able to effectively petition for compensation for their injuries, or for medical care required to treat injuries sustained while in the care of the jail or prison system.

The first exception occurs when the county or state agrees to be sued. The second occurs when the victim can prove that jail or prison officials displayed a “wonton disregard for the safety of the prisoner,” or when the victim can prove the prison officials acted in a grossly negligent manner.

The time period in New York State for filing a personal injury tort claim against the county or state is two years.

Learn more here: Jail and Prison Inmate Injury Claims

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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