Philadelphia Prisoner’s Rights Lawyers
Protect Your Right to Legal Action with Weisberg Law
When you are incarcerated, you do not have full constitutional rights. Nevertheless, you do have protection under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” as well as state and federal laws. If you experience assault, excessive force, inhumane conditions, a lack of physical or mental healthcare, religious discrimination, or discrimination based on your gender or disability, you have the right to bring about a complaint. Once you exhaust the internal prison grievance procedures, you may also file a lawsuit in federal court.
If you need to fight for your rights or file a personal injury, medical malpractice, or civil rights lawsuit, our Philadelphia prisoner’s rights attorneys can help. Weisberg Law has over 20 years of experience helping clients like you at an affordable price.
Find out what we can do for you during a free consultation – call us at (610) 550-8042 to schedule yours today.
Rules for Prison Litigation
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) establishes the rules for legal action in prison. Before filing a lawsuit, you must file an internal complaint and exhaust administrative remedies. If your issue still isn’t resolved, you may pay the relevant court fees and file a lawsuit in federal court.
Remember, your lawsuit must be legitimate, and you cannot file a lawsuit for mental or emotional injury unless you have a physical injury, as well.
Filing a lawsuit can be risky for an inmate, as it can jeopardize rewards for good behavior and present many challenges. If you believe your rights are being violated, you should discuss your concerns with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorneys should always have your best interests at heart, and they can help you understand your rights and legal options.
Types of Lawsuits You Can File
Inmates can file medical malpractice lawsuits, personal injury claims, and civil right suits. When inmates die because of prison assaults or medical malpractice, their surviving family members may also file a claim.
Prison Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Your right to medical care is protected by the Eighth Amendment (see the section, “Your Rights as an Inmate,” for more information). Even in prison, doctors and other providers owe you a duty of care. Sadly, inmates often receive subpar medical care while they are incarcerated, and sometimes treatments cause more harm than good.
When patients get hurt by the prison healthcare system, inmates and family members may sue the correctional facility and the private healthcare providers contracted by the government. In some cases, inadequate medical care can also be interpreted as a constitutional violation, specifically a violation of your Eight Amendment rights.
The elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit in prison are the same as standard medical malpractice suits. You must prove that the healthcare provider was treating you and failed to adhere to a standard of care – and that their failure caused your injury and damages.
You must also follow all relevant deadlines and requirements for suing a governmental entity and make sure your claim is valid under the PLRA.
Personal Injury Claims in Prison: Suing for Negligence
One of the rights you reserve as an inmate is your constitutional right to legal action. If prison officials act negligently, and you get hurt as a result, you can file a personal injury lawsuit from prison. That being said, you will face many obstacles as an incarcerated individual. The PLRA (see the “Rules for Prison Litigation” section) can make filing a lawsuit more challenging, state and federal employees and institutions have qualified immunity, and claims filed in federal prison must adhere to the federal tort claim procedures.
Our attorneys can challenge qualified immunity and help your lawsuit succeed under the PLRA and federal tort claim procedures. The most common prison injury claims we see at our firm include:
- Injuries caused by prison staff
- Injuries from inmate assaults
- Habeas corpus petitions and wrongful convictions
- Medical malpractice lawsuits (please see the previous section)
Your Rights as an Inmate (Civil Rights Suits)
In the United States, prisoners are not only allowed to sue but they are also entitled to basic human rights. Further, parts of the U.S. Constitution apply to inmates. For example, the Eighth Amendment of the constitution requires that prisoners be afforded a minimal standard of living and be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. As a result, prison officials have a legal duty to refrain from using excessive force and protect prisoners from assault by other prisoners. Additionally, prison facilities cannot be overcrowded (Brown v. Plata) or unsanitary, and prisoners are entitled to food, water, physical and mental healthcare (see the “Prison Medical Malpractice Lawsuits” section), and other daily basics.
Inmates also have limited rights under the First Amendment, including freedom of speech and religion. As long as your rights to read, write, speak, practice your religion, and communicate with the outside world do not interfere with your status as an inmate, prison officials may not curtail these rights. Prison officials may not impose religious beliefs nor treat members of one faith less favorably than those of another. Further, you may be able to adhere to religious diets or wear religious clothing or jewelry while you are incarcerated.
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment also applies to prisoners, so they cannot be subject to unequal treatment or discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex.
Perhaps most importantly, every prisoner has a right to due process, including the right to trials, appeals, and access to the parole process. No inmate may be falsely arrested nor imprisoned.
All too often, prison officials violate inmates’ rights or prevent justice from prevailing. When this occurs, our Philadelphia prisoner’s rights lawyers are here to help.
How the Americans with Disabilities Act Applies to Prisoners
Prison officials must not only preserve inmate’s constitutional rights, but they must also adhere to state and federal laws. Some laws are designed to regulate prisons, and others apply to every American – incarcerated or not. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not distinguish prisons from non-prisons, which means prisoners with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations.
Many state and federal laws apply to prisons, whether they are designed specifically for the prison system or not. The ADA applies to all Americans, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) applies to the prison system, but prison officials must adhere to both laws to protect prisoner rights.
Unfortunately, the culture of punishment in prisons is not always conducive to making sure inmates have access to their legal rights. Still, if you are facing excessive force or another kind of needless suffering, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Sometimes, you may need to hire an attorney to help make sure your voice is heard.
Legal Help in Prison Lawsuits
At Weisberg Law, we are committed to protecting your rights. We have been working in multiple practice areas since 2005, so we can help with a variety of legal challenges and approach your case from every angle.
We are aggressive advocates for your rights, and we offer free initial consultations to help you get started.
When prison officials violate your rights, let our firm be your very next call.
Call us at (610) 550-8042 or contact us online to put a strong voice on your side today – we will be in touch within 24 hours.