Personal Injury Cases Involving Prison Assaults – The Prison’s Duty of Care to Inmates
The unfortunate reality of life inside of prisons and jails in New York State is that, at times, violence occurs. Whether the aggressors are other inmates or corrections officers, the owners and operators of prisons and jails – in many cases, either the City of New York or the State of New York – are responsible to protect inmates from reasonably foreseeable threats of violence. Their failure to do so – to protect an inmate against a threat of harm that, if they’re doing their duty and vigilently protecting the safety of an inmate – can result in liability for personal injuries suffered by an inmate. This article explains one of the duties of care that prison owners and operators owe to inmates who are in their charge and in no position to protect themselves.
In 2002, the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court, defined the duty of care owed by owners and operators of prisons to inmates, stating in Sanchez v. State of New York that where an owner or operator of a prison has actual notice (i.e., where they actually know about a specific risk of harm) or constructive notice (i.e., where they should know of or could discover a risk of harm through a reasonable inspection) of a “risk of harm,” a “risk of an injury-producing occurrence,” or a risk of an “inmate-on-inmate attack,” the owner or operator of a prison can be held liable for personal injuries suffered by inmates. The source of the risk of harm (i.e., whether it comes from attacks by guards, attacks by other inmates or from poor conditions within the prison itself) does not matter; if any harm is foreseeable, and it ultimately is visited upon an inmate, the inmate and his or her family may sue to recover for any damages that they have incurred as a result of the prison’s negligence.
If you or a love one have been injured in a prison assault or prison accident and have been seriously injured, my law firm stands ready to help you in securing the fair compensation that you deserve. Please contact me at (718) 354-8000 to discuss your case today!