Civil Rights Attorney Serving Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County and Beyond.

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CIVIL RIGHTS CASE- FREQUENTLY ANSWERED QUESTIONS2023-09-21T01:28:10+00:00

Have questions about your case or if we can take it on? Please review these frequently answered questions.

Do I Have To Submit A 6-Month Tort Claim To The Agency Responsible for Causing My Loved One’s Death?2023-07-20T17:27:23+00:00
  • Yes. The California Government Tort Claims Law requires the preservation of a state government tort claim to all the agencies you are planning on filing a lawsuit against within 6 months of the date of loss. If you don’t present a tort claim with the agency responsible, you may be barred from alleging state law causes of action such as Negligence, Battery or even the Ralph Bane Act. However, even if you fail to present a claim within 6 months but are still within 12 months from the date of loss, if certain exceptions are met, you can file a late claim within 12 months of the incident date.

What if I never submitted a government tort claim within the allocated time frame?

  • You can still sue under federal law so long as you file the federal claims within 2 years of the date of incident.
What Kind Of Investigation and Resources Can Your Firm Assist With?2023-07-20T04:49:22+00:00
  • Depending on the nature of the civil rights case, the scope and reach of our firm’s investigation can vary from obtaining and reviewing medical records, autopsy reports, blood toxicology screening reports, requesting a Public Records Request Act for documents and evidence to locating and interviewing critical witnesses to an incident including jail visits to locate witnesses, subpoenaing third party entities once a suit is filed, securing surveillance video evidence, and at minimum, placing the establishment on notice to preserve potential video and tangible evidence of an incident.

 

  • We also have private investigators who can help track down witnesses and/or obtain further evidence to help win your case.
Can A Private Autopsy Be Helpful?2023-08-01T18:37:41+00:00
  • Sometimes, when the cause of death is questionable or foul play is suspected, a second private autopsy arranged by the family may be helpful in seeking quicker answers to a cause of death and/or making sure that an accurate forensic examination is conducted especially when the death followed a physical struggle with law enforcement. The private medical examination is paid for by the family but may be a worthy expenditure to preserve an honest finding of the real cause of death. Separate blood toxicology testing may sometimes be requested if there is a question as to whether the deceased was under the influence of drugs and what quantities of drugs were in fact in the person’s body at the time of death
In a Jail Death Case, Why Are Medical Reports Important?2023-07-20T17:27:44+00:00
  • Medical reports, both jail and outside hospital records, can be a source of vital information about the events and medical conditions a person had prior to passing away. Often times the family members of a loved one are provided very little information by County and jail officials under what is seemingly a cloak of secrecy. That is why it is vital to have an experienced attorney with a strong medical background who understands medical terminology and who can piece together what happened to an inmate prior to his expiration. Also, medical charting notes are frequently written in a ”CYA” manner especially when there is clear medical neglect on the part of the medical staff. Therefore, medical records can be very helpful when putting together a factual narrative explaining what medical care an inmate should have been given long before the inmate drops dead in his cell and a man-down is called.
Why Is The “Official” Cause Of Death Not Always An Accurate Picture?2023-07-20T04:52:36+00:00
  • Attorney Cameron Sehat has taken a particular liking to the medical aspect of cases, particularly when it comes to understanding and explaining the medico-legal feature related to physical and psychological injuries stemming from a third party’s misconduct.

 

  • Sometimes when a person dies immediately after a physical altercation with the police and the person’s blood test positive for substances, the county medical examiner will rubber-stamp the cause of death and claim the death was solely due to substance intoxication even with nominal amounts of drugs in their system. This is intended to distract from the conduct of the police officer’s use of force which immediately precipitated the death of a person.

 

  • It is therefore important to understand both the science and mechanism of death and have a good command of the medicine in order to demonstrate that the county coroner’s rubber-stamped cause of death in the autopsy report is incorrect. For example, more often than not, whenever a person dies in the custody of police officers or jailers, and a substantial use of force was applied immediately preceding the death, seldom will a county coroner attribute the use of force as an additional cause of death; all it takes is for the person’s toxicology test to test positive for drugs for the cause of death to be exclusively “death due to drug intoxication”. Therefore, it is of utmost importance, in cases of police excessive force during which a person dies after a significant amount of force is used but where the person was also under the influence of an intoxicant, to prove the coroner’s cause of death left out a vital use of force as another contributory cause of death. These are challenging cases as the county coroner, who sometimes is also employed by the offending police agency, will likely be biased in favor of law enforcement, and will seldom impute fault upon the agency for causing the death. Therefore, you have to master an understanding of the medical aspect of the case in order to go toe-toe with professional witnesses who are trained to testify with a bias against your case.
Are Police Officers Trained To Avoid Restraining A Person In A Proned Position?2023-07-20T17:25:21+00:00
  • The short answer is yes. The problem with holding and restraining someone on their stomach for an extended period of time is that it restricts their ability to breathe, especially if the person is deemed overweight and additional weight is pressed on their back. When this happens, the person’s oxygen saturation can rapidly decompensate and they will asphyxiate due their bodies’ inability to take in enough oxygen. To add insult to injury, frequently when a person dies after being held for long period of time in a prone position or after being in a chokehold, the county coroner will rarely attribute the primary cause of death to the officers. Often times, the officers/deputies involved in the use of force are employed by the same agency county as the medical examiners, and hence, you can see the clear conflict of interest between the County’s interest and the medical examiner who took a medical oath to truthfully investigate his findings. That is why it is crucial to take the deposition of the county medical examiner, once a lawsuit is filed, to elicit testimony that can even the playing field and demonstrate how much of a contributory factor were the officers’ use of force in causing a loved one’s death.
In A Police Shooting Death, Why Is A Bullet Trajectory Analysis Important?2023-07-20T17:25:09+00:00
  • In a typical officer-involved shooting, the shooting officer(s) will attempt to justify their deadly force by claiming the person shot was an “imminent threat” to the officers’ safety stating further that he either squared off with them, made a furtive gesture, reached for his waistband, or even reached for a gun or a weapon. However, police officers are trained that deadly force can only be used when objectively faced with an immediate threat of deadly harm or serious bodily injuries. That being said, a bullet trajectory analysis can either confirm or discredit a shooting officer’s version of the shooting by placing the decedent’s position away from the shooter, for example, when a person is shot in the back, contradicting the officer’s claims, that the suspect was charging at the officer with a knife in his hand. These are critical determinations that only well trained civil rights attorney can pick up on and help you win a shooting case when only one side of the story has been told, that of the shooting officer.
Why Is It Important To Have A Civil Rights Attorney Who Understands The Medicine?2023-07-20T04:55:58+00:00
  • A trial lawyer needs to have a great command of the medicine involved in your particular case, especially if your loved one died as a result of a complex but avoidable medical condition due to the neglect of those in charge of his/her welfare. As you have to explain intricate and complex medical conditions to lay people, you have to be able to explain a complex subject and break it down into a simple subject.

 

  • Other examples of mastering the medicine involves inmates whose known medical condition have been deplorably neglected by the correctional staff resulting in either a serious aggravation of their condition or sometimes resulting in death. The jail facility will always blame the inmate claiming their death in custody was unavoidable and merely a coincidence of the person being in custody. This is oftentimes an absurd defense when you can prove that an inmate suffered from an urgent medical condition but was ignored, and through the use of medical experts you can establish that had the inmate received timely medical care, the victim more likely than not would have survived.

 

  • Correctional nurses and doctors have a duty to treat and provide  timely healthcare  to inmates. A correctional officer has a duty to safeguard the inmates under their watch and to report an inmate in physical distress to medical staff.   The inmate, who does not have the option to choose his medical provider nor to summon “911” , is exclusively reliant upon those in charge of their custody. And when these professionals fail to uphold their standard of care, it is the inmate/patient who suffers the consequence of their failure.

 

  • Again, it is a travesty that in each and every case during which an inmate is left to die in a cell, such neglect and dereliction of duty is directly caused by deliberate indifference of the medical and correctional staff. Seldom will the county coroner attribute any fault upon those who were in immediate charge of the inmate.

 

  • That is why the best recourse against these types of misconduct is to file a civil rights action against the offending agency and their employees. These types of cases often time will rely upon a 14th or an 8th Amendment violation against cruel and unusual punishment in which a person’s medical care has suffered as a result of the offending correctional staff’s deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition.
Why Should I Retain Your Law Firm As Opposed To Another Firm?2023-07-25T23:26:31+00:00
  • When interviewing attorneys ask them the following: do you specialize in civil rights or do you also practice other areas of law? How long have you exclusively handled civil rights cases? What is your track record? Do you have an appellate track record? Do you have a strong medical background that can be helpful in a complex medical neglect case?

 

  • Our firm exclusively handles civil rights cases which give us an edge over other attorneys who dabble in civil rights but also practice unrelated areas of law such employment law or bankruptcy. You wouldn’t let your accountant do a medical procedure on you, would you? Likewise, you don’t want to hire a jack-of- all trade attorney who will likely bring in another attorney who actually specializes in civil rights after they retain your case.

 

  • We take pride in exclusively handling civil rights cases and have had several published 9th Circuit court of Appeals decisions in the civil rights arena having favorably changed the law in order to help jail inmates obtain better medical care while in custody.

 

  • The Sehat Law Firm has a proven track record and our commitment to improving patient-inmate care has recently paid dividend with a seminal 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals decision, in the case of Mary Gordon vs. County of Orange, during a treacherous 8 year litigation and after two favorable 9th Circuit Federal Appellate decisions have changed the tides for the betterment of inmate medical care. The case in essence, lowered the standard of proof for deliberate indifference to serious medical conditions and correctional staff can now be held liable objectively for their deliberate indifference. County and municipal jails in all 11 states and territory of the 9th Federal Circuit are now held to this new standard of pretrial detainee medical care.
Cameron Sehat, ESQ

We all have a responsibility to defend and guard our Civil Rights against abuse of power.

– Cameron Sehat, Esq.

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