Medical Neglect of Prison Inmates and Pretrial Detainees
During their time in jail or prison, inmates are guaranteed access to basic medical care under the law. Denying an inmate healthcare is tantamount to stripping them of their civil rights. It does not matter what crime prisoners committed to land themselves in jail, medical neglect should never be part of their punishment.
Examples of Jail Medical Neglect
Much could go wrong with an inmate’s health care, especially when they often feel powerless to exercise their rights. Here are some examples of situations that fall under the umbrella of medical neglect:
- Denying access to medication
- Ignoring serious injuries or illnesses
- Jail medical malpractice
- Prison medical abuses
- Allowing unnecessary pain and suffering
- Denying vital treatment
- Denying access to mental health services
- Failing to prevent suicide by asphyxiation
- Denying medical detoxification from drugs and/or alcohol
Proving a prison medical neglect claim once involved showing deliberate indifference on the part of prison employees or officials. This meant they actively knew of the risk for the inmate by failing to provide medical treatment, by providing inadequate medical treatment, or by delaying treatment, but continued to deny treatment anyway.
Following a 2015 Supreme Court holding, Kingsley v. Hendrickson, recent federal Civil Rights cases involving jail medical neglect have used a lowered standard of proof to hold jail and prison guards and medical personnel liable who are responsible for an inmate’s injury or death. Instead of proving subjective deliberate indifference (the party acted with deliberate indifference) the standard of proof for jail medical neglect is now objective deliberate indifference or, put simply, the reasonable person standard. In other words, what would a reasonable person do under similar circumstances to ensure the health and safety of inmates and pretrial detainees under their care?
In many cases, serious injury or death could be avoided if the guards and medical staff would simply follow medical guidelines, the Department of Corrections policies and procedures, and the law when doing their jobs. Whatever the intent of jail and prison guards and medical staff, the rules are there to keep detainees and inmates safe and protect their rights. With an objective legal standard it’s now easier to hold jail and prison staff liable for their careless mistakes which can wind up causing serious injuries and even death to inmates.
Prison Medical Neglect Claims
Lawsuits for medical neglect in prison can have multiple defendants. Many jails contract their medical care to private entities. Inmates who suffered from medical neglect can sue the prison, these medical entities, prison guards and any employee involved with denying them adequate health care.
Under the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, prisoners are protected from cruel and unusual punishment. This includes denial of certain medical services. Inmates can sue under Section 1983 for damages as well as under state laws. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees due process to pretrial detainees, including access to adequate medical services and care. Depending on the injuries and severity of medical needs that were denied, inmates can be awarded considerable damages.
Contact a Southern California Jail Medical Neglect Attorney Today
Being in prison does not mean you do not deserve adequate medical treatment. At The Sehat Law Firm, we can help you stand up to large prison bureaucracies and assert your rights to quality health care. With offices in Los Angeles, Irvine, Long Beach and Riverside, our civil rights and police misconduct lawyers have the knowledge and skills to guide you through this painstaking process. Contact us today for a free consultation.