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Can we sue for pain and suffering? My husband is not bruised but his body aches all over from being kicked in the back.

Arlington, TX |

This past weekend there was a murder around the corner from where I live. My husband went out to see what was going on after hearing four gunshots. As he walked toward the crime scene policemen surrounded him and told him to get down on the ground so he did. They handcuffed him repeating that he was a murder suspect. While he was on the ground face down with his hands behind his back a policeman kicked him in the back. He claimed he did because my husband moved. He did not resist arrest. When they finally realized that my husband did not fit the description they were looking for they let him go. They were looking for a black man with tattoos, a black hoodie, and blue jeans. My husband has no tattoos, a white sweater, and black jeans. The only accurate thing is that he is black.

My husband was actually not walking toward the crime scene. He walked to the end of the corner looking from a distance. He was on his back to the house when the police stopped him.

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Attorney answers 6


I think the probability of getting any money out of the police department/city is extremely low. The officer may have been completely unjustified in what he did, but it does not sound like your husband suffered any meaningful injury and does not appear to have sought any medical attention. So assuming you were to sue and your case survived long enough to get to a jury, I do not see a jury awarding significant money damages.

If you want to make sure it doesn't happen to someone else, your husband should file a formal complaint about the excessive force. I've added a civil rights tag to you post since attorneys with more expertise in that area may see things differently.

Disclaimer: answers posted by attorney Daragh Carter to questions posted on AVVO are NOT privileged or confidential and will not and should not be construed to create an attorney-client relationship between attorney Daragh Carter and you or anyone else.


I would tend to agree. Can you sue? Yes, but what is the likely outcome from a personal injury standpoint. It seems that you may not have much, if any, quantifiable monetary damages.

The answering of this question does not constitute a attorney-client relationship. Further by answering this question the attorney has not agreed to represent inquisitor.


Whether or not it is worthwhile to pursue a claim will depend on whether or not your husband has sustained a lasting injury. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney ASAP as there are probably short notice requirements that must be complied with.

In seeking an attorney on this site, beware of limiting your search to attorneys with a 10 rating, and carefully read the AVVO disclaimer regarding their rating system. There are certain factors that are given great weight which do not necessarily have any bearing on an attorney's experience, abilities, and results with certain types of cases. Accordingly, the rating numbers can be misleading. Also beware of basing your choice on the fee charged, as a low fee, depending on the skill, experience and determination of the specific attorney handling your case, could actually have an inverse relationship to the amount actually put in your pocket.


Civil Rights cases are tough, and if your husband suffered no permanent injuries, you may have difficulties finding an experienced attorney to take the case. You options are limited... find an attorney to pursue a case with limited value, file a complaint with the police department, or do nothing and move on. The choice is yours, but I would stay away from crime scenes, and tell you that the case law and appellate decisions are stacked in favor of the police, as they have a tough job to do.


Contact the NAACP. Your husband may not have enough injury to cover the cost of pursuing it as a practical matter, but you should still make what happened known. This may be an isolated incident, but it never hurts to compare notes with other potential incidents.

This is not legal advice. You should always discuss the specifics of your issue in person with an attorney. Be aware that there are time limits on all claims that depend on the kind of claim, so do not delay in seeking an attorney.


Generally speaking, the government has immunity, unless it agrees to waive its immunity. Normally, immunity is wavied for injuries caused by the use of automobiles and some other instrumentalities. Since your husband was not injured by those means, I believe it would be difficult, if not impossible to prove that immunity was waived so that a personal injury lawsuit could be pursued. However, you always have the right to bring suit for the violation of your husband's civil rights, but those cases are a big commitment of time and resources and you would need to speak to a lawyer who specializes in civil rights cases to determine if your situation lends itself to such.

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