Are the police liable for my injuries if they were negligent in their duties?

The police were called to my wife’s restaurant for a disturbance outside. One patron hit another with a beer bottle across the face. I intervened and got into a fist fight with the attacker. The guys left the lot before the police got there. When the police got there we found out the attackers were friends with 1 of the waitresses. The police told her to tell them to take out a warrant on me for assault. They left without getting my statement. The guys came back with guns and I got shot. Are the police liable?

Asked on March 15, 2011 under Personal Injury, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The police are almost certainly not liable. The law does not generally allow the police (or city, state, etc.) to be held legally liable for a failure to arrest or take more action--whether you agree with it or not, that's the policy, since otherwise every crime victim would sue the police all the time for their failure to have stopped the crime.

Second, the fact that you were in a fist fight does not necessarily mean or predict that they would come back with guns and shoot  you--in fact, there really isn't any causal link. Without a strong causal link (i.e. the vast majority of fist fights do NOT result in a shooting, and there's no way to predict the ones that would), you can't hold anyone, including the police, liable for the injury.

You can certainly sue the attackers themselves for your injury--you could sue them for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc.--but unless you can show something significantly more than what you right--for example, did the police *know* (e.g. were told by a credible source) that they other guys would shoot you and deliberately did nothing? did they give them the gun?--it is almost certain that there would be no liability against the police.


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