The Importance of 1983 Claims


All Americans enjoy the protections afforded to them by the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, however, fundamental rights are sometimes infringed upon by state government officials. Thankfully, federal law allows for the private enforcement of constitutionally protected rights through Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code.

What are the Requirements to Bring a 1983 Claim?

1983 claims are the legal mechanism in which people can seek redress and be compensated for deprivations of their fundamental rights. To bring a 1983 claim, two conditions must be satisfied. First, there must have been a deprivation of rights, privileges or immunities granted under the Constitution or federal law. Secondly, the violation must have been “under color of state law.” This means the violation needs to have been committed by a state, city, county or local official by way of their actual or apparent authority of the state.

Types of 1983 Claims

The types of claims that may be brought under a 1983 action vary widely and may be used in many situations. Typical 1983 claims include allegations involving:

  • Police misconduct or excessive use of force
  • Unlawful arrest
  • Abuse of power
  • Denial of due process
  • Equal protection
  • Warrantless arrest
  • Discrimination by state officials
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Civil rights violations
  • Negligent actions

Who Can File a 1983 Claim?

Section 1983 allows any U.S. citizen or any other person within the jurisdiction thereof to file a claim. This means a person can file a 1983 action even if they are not a U.S. citizen. So long as a person was physically present in the United States at the time his or her rights were violated, then they are entitled to a lawsuit under 1983.

What Happens if I Win?

A successful 1983 claims may result in a broad range of both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages can include reimbursement for medical care, lost wages, and physical pain and suffering. Punitive damages on the other hand “punish” the party who disregarded a person’s constitutional rights. Furthermore, a party that prevails under a 1983 claim may be entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Other Advantages of 1983 Claims

Unlike other types of lawsuits, a 1983 claim entitles a person to bring their suit in federal court. This can be beneficial because the case is likely to move along quickly. Additionally, since more 1983 claims are filed in federal court, judges tend to be more familiar with the governing law. 1983 claims tend to also have longer statutes of limitations when compared to similar state law claims. This means an injured person is less vulnerable to losing their right to sue simple because they waited too long.

Contact Berry Law

Section 1983 is a powerful weapon that is used to protect constitutional rights from infringement by the states. If you have been injured by unconstitutional policies, customs, or practices of governmental employees, please contact Berry Law. People in power are not invincible but getting to them takes the right attorney. For decades, Berry Law has passionately fought on the behalf of thousands of clients. Allow us to do the same for you.

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