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


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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.