What Kind of Compensation is Available in a Police Brutality Lawsuit?

While it’s always important to remember that most law enforcement officers are dedicated public servants, unfortunately, some do abuse their power. When this happens, the victim may be able to seek legal recourse in a lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, a claim may be brought against individual officers, their department or jurisdiction, or both. Generally, victims of police brutality are eligible for compensation for their physical pain, lost wages due to missed workdays, medical bills associated with attempting to treat any injuries suffered during the encounter, and psychological distress. Punitive damages may be awarded if the court finds that the defendant’s conduct was wanton, reckless, malicious, or downright oppressive. This article further explains the different types of compensation that may be available in a police brutality lawsuit.

Compensatory Damages

Mostly, these damages are awarded to compensate the victim for any out-of-pocket expenses they have had to incur because of their encounter with police brutality. Economic compensatory damages can be medical expenses due to injury, lost wages if the victim had to miss work, costs associated with repairing any property damaged during the incident, or in some cases even funeral expenses. Whereas economic damages are typically more straightforward, non-economic ones can be much harder to quantify. This is because they involve things such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, shock, humiliation, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. All compensatory damages are intended to allow the plaintiff to be “put back in the position they would have been in if not for the defendant’s conduct.”

Punitive Damages

These damages are rare and may be awarded in cases involving malicious or oppressive conduct by the defendant. As a result, they are not meant to necessarily compensate the victim, but rather serve as a way of punishing the defendant(s) for their behavior and deterring them from engaging in similar acts in the future. Depending on the jurisdiction, punitive damages can be up to three times greater than compensatory ones. These damages are important to keep track of as they will help build you a solid case.

Attorney Fees Compensation

If you were a victim, one of the benefits of filing a civil action is that you may be able to recover your attorney fees. It’s highly likely that the court if it finds in favor of the plaintiff, will order the defendant to pay all or a portion of the legal fees associated with bringing the suit. It is important to note that such cases can be complex, therefore it is imperative to speak to an experienced police brutality lawyer at Friedman Levy in New York City who understands this area of law. They will not only be able to advise you on the best course of action, but also help ensure that you receive all the compensation available in your case.


When it comes to civil actions related to police brutality, the types of damages that may be available will depend on the circumstances and jurisdiction. However, in general, compensatory (physical and mental injuries, medical bills, property damage, etc.), punitive (for malicious or oppressive behavior) and attorney fee compensation damages are all possible. Understanding your rights and seeking legal help is the best way to ensure that you receive all the compensation available in your case.