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Can I sue for being denied medical care in jail?

Asked by user in California.

I was in jail and denied medical treatment for 3 months. Additionally, I was not protected from catching covid. I filed grievances during the time my rights were violated.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

I’m so sorry this happened to you.

You have the right to sue for the denial of medical treatment. The United States Supreme Court held that inmates have a right to adequate medical care. Additionally, you may have the right to sue for contracting COVID-19 depending on the circumstances.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) is a federal law that requires inmates to exhaust all administrative remedies before they’re permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit. In other words, before you file a lawsuit, you must first try to resolve your complaint through the prison’s existing grievance procedures. It sounds like you may have already done this.

You have a right to sue without a lawyer (known as “pro se”). However, you face several obstacles when suing a jail that people who are not in prison don’t face. Consequently, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney.

Some nonprofit organizations represent prisoners for free or at a reduced cost. You can find a list of those organizations here. If you have a good chance of winning your lawsuit, a lawyer might take your case on a contingency-fee-basis. This means you’ll pay the attorney a percentage of your award if you win, but you don’t have to pay the lawyer anything if you lose. You can use our free online directory to reach out to an attorney.

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