1983 CASES

If you believe you have been deprived of your constitutional rights, you may be able to pursue a 1983 claim: a civil action against the government to recover damages sustained as a result of the violation. Section 1983 applies to local and state governments only. The federal equivalent is known as a “Bivens action.”

There are three criteria to assert properly a cause of action under 42 USC § 1983:

    1. Plaintiff must identify the constitutional right that was allegedly violated;
    2. Plaintiff must have suffered a tangible injury as a result of the violation; and
    3. The individual depriving the Plaintiff of the identified right must have been acting for or on behalf of a government entity.

Types of 1983 Cases

The types of claims made under Section 1983 vary considerably. Some of the most common claims include:

  • Police misconduct, such as:
    • Illegal search and seizure claims under the 4th Amendment
    • Excessive use of force or restraints
    • Damages caused by a police pursuit
  • Violations of 1st Amendment rights (Speech, Protest, etc.)
  • Violations of due process and equal protection rights under the 5th and 14th Amendments
  • Prison litigation, such as:
    • Insufficient medical care or nutrition
    • Abuse
    • Conditions of confinement or overcrowding

The law was invoked frequently by Civil Rights protesters in the 1960s. Today, it remains an important legal basis for defending individual rights.

If you believe your civil rights have been violated and that you may have a 1983 claim, contact Paul D. Petrus Jr.

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