The most important federal law you can use to protect your constitutional rights against government misconduct is 42 USC Section 1983. This law is commonly referred to as a “1983 action.”
Section 1983 gives private citizens the right to sue the government and its employees for constitutional violations. For you, a Section 1983 lawsuit may be the only way to protect yourself against abuse by government officials.
The best known example of a Section 1983 lawsuit is a police brutality case where a law enforcement officer violates a citizen’s constitutional right to be free from excessive use of force.
Section 1983 is frequently used to enforce the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which are known as the “Bill of Rights.” Common examples of Section 1983 cases include:
- First Amendment claims involving your right to freedom of speech, religion, and association
- Fourth Amendment claims involving your right to be free from false arrest, illegal detention, malicious prosecution and intentional police abuse
- Eighth Amendment claims involving your right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
- Fourteenth Amendment claims involving your right to be free from depravations of life, liberty, or property without procedural due process
Do I Have a Good 42 USC Section 1983 Case?
The first thing our attorneys do is determine if you have a good case.
A good Section 1983 case often involves a private citizen who has suffered a serious or catastrophic injury because of a government official’s intentional wrongdoing.
The most common Section 1983 cases we handle include:
- Excessive force claims against law enforcement officers who engage in police brutality or unreasonably use deadly force
- False arrest claims against law enforcement officers who abuse their arrest and detention powers
- Freedom of speech claims against public employers that punish or wrongfully terminate their employees when they speak out on a matter of public concern
- Sexual abuse claims against government officials who use their position of authority to commit sexual assaults
A Section 1983 civil action can be a powerful tool to hold government officials accountable when your constitutional rights are violated.
If your constitutional rights have been violated, you may be entitled to substantial monetary compensation.
Depending on the facts of your case, an attorney can help you recover money for any of the following:
- General damages to compensate you for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life
- Special damages to compensate you for past and future lost wages, medical bills, and other out-of-pocket expenses
- Punitive damages to punish government officials who act with malice or reckless indifference to your federally protected rights