Police Misconduct Litigation
Federal law protects individuals against excessive force from law enforcement, discriminatory harassment, false arrests, coercive sexual conduct, and unlawful stops, searches, or arrests. By definition, excessive force, or police brutality, refers to situations where government officials legally entitled to use force use more than is necessary to diffuse an incident or protect themselves or others from harm.
Individuals are protected under the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable seizure, and law enforcement officers are not allowed to arrest individuals without a warrant or probable cause. The landmark Supreme Court case, Tennessee v. Garner, also established that deadly force can only be used during an arrest if doing so is necessary to prevent the alleged offender’s escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.
When deciding whether a police officer engaged in excessive force, courts will examine the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the actions were "objectively reasonable," analyzing factors like:
the severity of the underlying crime or circumstances;
whether an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others existed;
whether the individual was actively resisting arrest or attempting to flee;
whether other alternatives were available; or
whether warnings were provided or could have been provided.
Car Accident Damages
Under Alabama's "contributory negligence" rule, individuals involved in a car accident cannot receive any monetary damages if they are found to have been even slightly at fault for the accident. This is contrary to most states that operate under “comparative negligence,” which allows drivers to recover some damages if they are not more than 50% at fault for the accident.
The statute of limitations for car accidents in Alabama (and most personal injury claims) is 2 years, unless a person only seeks to file a lawsuit over vehicle damage, in which case the deadline is 6 years. The 2-year deadline also applies if the car accident results in a death, and the family or personal representative of the deceased person wants to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at fault party. Note that the 2-year clock starts running on the day the injury occurs. If a plaintiff does not file before the 2-year deadline, the court will likely dismiss the lawsuit.
What if you are unsure who caused your injuries or the at-fault party did not have insurance? Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is designed to cover medical expenses and may apply.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. More specifically, sexual harassment is unwelcomed sexual behavior that: explicitly or implicitly affects a term or condition of an individual's employment; unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance; and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
*Note that sexual harassment can be physical (e.g., touching or gesturing), verbal (e.g., requests for a date or sexual favors or lewd remarks), or visual (e.g., exposure to sexual photos, cartoons, or drawings)*
Two specific examples of sexual harassment that can occur in the workplace are (1) quid pro quo which is committed by someone who has the power to make employment decisions that will impact the victim and creating a hostile work environment. (2) Hostile Work Environment which exists when an employee is subjected to unwanted sexual advances, propositions, jokes, or pictures while at work.