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The United State Constitution and numerous federal laws provide all of us with certain civil rights and liberties. If your rights have been violated by the government, you may be able to bring a lawsuit under Section 1983 of the United State Code.

Section 1983 is a statute that, in and of itself, does not provide create civil rights. Instead, it simply authorizes a lawsuit to recover damages for the violation of rights found elsewhere in the law.

What Are Your Civil Rights?

Federal law guarantees many types of civil rights. False arrest, unlawful imprisonment, illegal searches and seizures, and excessive force (police brutality) are some of the more common civil rights violations. Others include deliberate indifference to the medical needs of a prisoner, denial of the first amendment right to free speech, certain rights of privacy, religious discrimination, and denial of voting rights. This is not an exclusive list.

Anytime federal law provides you with a right and a government employee takes that away, you may have a Section 1983 claim.

(There are some exceptions, particularly when the employee is a judge, prosecutor or another judicial officer.)

Who Can Be Sued?

A government employee that violates your civil rights while acting under color of law may be liable for your damages. The phrase “color of law” means that the employee was using the power given to him by the government when he violated your rights.

Something more, however, must be proved in order to also sue the government itself. Generally speaking, the government is not responsible for the employee’s actions unless (a) the employee was acting pursuant to an official government policy or well-established custom, (b) the employee was a “final policymaker” for the government, or (c) the government later ratified the actions of the employee.

What Damages Can Be Recovered?

The damages in Section 1983 cases vary, depending upon the nature of the violation and the injuries inflicted. Depending on the case, damages may be recovered for loss of liberty, emotional distress, physical injury, loss of income, and others that can be proven.

How Long Do You Have To File A Lawsuit?

Although Section 1983 is a federal law, the courts apply the statute of limitation used by the state in which the court sits. For cases arising in Mississippi, the statute of limitation is three years. In Alabama, it is two years.

Contact A Civil Rights Lawyer In Mississippi Or Alabama

If you have been the victim of a civil rights violation, our attorneys are available to assess your case. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call Pepper & Odom Law Firm in Mississippi at 601-202-1111