For those hurt due to the actions of government employees, the Criminal Justice Civil Rights team at Burnette Shutt & McDaniel will explore every legal possibility for making things right. This includes:

Section 1983 Claims. This provision of federal law gives people the right to sue state and local government officials and employees who violate their constitutional rights.

Its original purpose was to protect enslaved people emancipated after the Civil War. After it became a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, suing for monetary damages was allowed.

In the years since, Section 1983 claims have been used to counter a wide range of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law.

For example, Section 1983 claims can be used to sue a police officer in federal court for excessive force or a prison doctor for refusing to order necessary treatment.

State agencies and local governments also can be sued for violating your constitutional rights, but those suits are more difficult.

The federal Prison Litigation Reform Act requires people incarcerated in county jails or state prisons to “exhaust available administrative remedies” before filing suit. In other words, if there’s a grievance procedure system at the jail or prison, that process must be followed first.

Bivens Claims. If a federal official or employee violates your constitutional rights, you might be entitled to recover in federal court by filing what is known as a “Bivens Claim.” These claims include abuse or mistreatment in federal prisons.

State Civil Rights Claims. If your civil rights have been violated, but you have not exhausted available administrative remedies or law enforcement officials were negligent in dealing with you, your best legal strategy may be to file under state law.

The South Carolina Tort Claims Act can provide the most effective means of suing a state employee. This law, however, limits the maximum damages to $300,000 per person from a single incident.

If you or your loved one have experienced any of these issues, our criminal justice civil rights team may be able to help you.