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Attorney Sanga Turnbull

Can You Recover Damages for an Injury During a Protest?

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2020 | Personal Injury

Protests over the killing of a black man by a white police officer in Minneapolis prompted local governments to impose nightly curfews in several major cities across Florida. As reported by U.S. News, police officers in Orlando used tear gas on protesters who obstructed traffic on Interstate 4. The Orlando Police Department, meanwhile, claims that demonstrators were throwing rocks and bottles at the officers.

In other cities, police used not only tear gas but also rubber bullets, pepper spray gas, and even batons in an attempt to disperse crowds of protesters. With all the tear gas, rubber bullets, rocks, and bottles flying around protesters, it can be very easy to get injured during a protest.

Also, protesters can be hit by motor vehicles. In Tallahassee, a truck driver plowed into the crowd of protesters after one of them reportedly smashed a bottle against the truck’s window. The trucker suddenly accelerated and knocked down several demonstrators, according to NBC Miami.

Regardless of how you were injured during a protest in Florida, you can obtain compensation for your personal injury and losses. There are several options for recovering damages for an injury during a protest, depending on how you sustained the injury.

Injury During a Protest by Traffic

An injured protester can seek compensation following their injury caused by an auto accident during a protest by establishing the driver’s negligence. A driver can be held liable for your traffic-related injury during a protest by proving the following four elements:

  • The driver owed the injured protester a duty of care;
  • The driver breached the duty of care (e.g., the motorist was distracted at the time of the collision);
  • The driver’s negligence caused the protester’s injury; and
  • The protester suffered harm due to their traffic-related injury.

However, the driver may be able to defend themselves from liability if the protesters posed imminent harm to his or her safety (e.g., by attacking the vehicle).

Injury During a Protest by Assault

A protester can also become a victim of assault or battery at the hands of a fellow protester or non-demonstrator. If the perpetrator is found guilty of assault, he or she will face criminal penalties, including a prison sentence, probation, and/or fines.

However, the injured protester can also bring a civil claim for assault in order to recover damages. While a criminal lawsuit against the perpetrator is intended to punish him or her, a civil claim is intended to provide reimbursement for the victim’s injury.

Injury During a Protest by Police Misconduct

If you were injured during a protest as a result of police misconduct (e.g., the use of excessive force), you might be eligible to pursue a civil lawsuit against the police officer or agency. In Florida, a law enforcement agency can be held liable through a civil claim if they cause an accident or someone’s injury as a result of their negligence. A victim of police brutality must consult with a skilled personal injury attorney in Orange County or other parts of Florida to review their legal options.

Under Florida law, you must file a formal notice of claim after being injured during a protest by police misconduct. Speak with our Lakeland personal injury attorneys at The Turnbull Firm to help you with sending a formal notice of claim to the appropriate agency. Call at 863-324-3500 to get a consultation.