The right to protest is vital to a democracy. You absolutely have a right to protest and, ideally, you should be able to speak your mind without fear of being injured. In recent years, a growing number of people have been protesting for a growing number of reasons. Most of them time, these protests are peaceful. Sometimes, however, protests can lead to confrontations and violence. The rights of anyone who sustains an injury while attending a protest depend largely on who caused the harm and how it was caused.
Even when protests are peaceful, there’s always a partial risk of injury for those who attend simply due to large numbers of people moving through an unfamiliar space. Large crowds pose risks for falls, trips, and in some cases, structural damage. But, if you are injured during a protest, who should be held accountable?
Who is At Fault?
First things first, you probably will not be able to hold the Illinois state government responsible for injuries you incur while protesting. Attending a protest puts you at a greater risk of being injured than choosing instead to stay home or engage in other activities.
Previous court cases have repeatedly found that the state in which you reside cannot be held liable for injuries caused by third parties, no matter where the injury occurred.
Injured by Another Protestor
If you were injured by another protestor, that person bears the most direct liability for your injuries. If the other protestor assaulted you, you probably have a criminal claim against that person.
If your injuries weren’t intentionally caused by the other protestor, you may have a personal injury case against that person. If the organizers of the protest or march neglected to create a safe environment for participants, you may also have a claim against them. As an example, if the organizers did not hire enough security for the event and another protestor assaulted you, you could have a criminal case against your attacker as well as a premises liability claim against the organizers.
The organizers of the event may also be responsible if you’re involved in a pedestrian accident. Organizers of marches must work with the city and the police to properly shut down streets if necessary. If organizers encourage participants to take to the streets without shutting them down, they may be responsible if you get into an accident with a car or bicycle.
Business & Property Owners
If your injuries occurred while you were in a public business or on private property, you may have a claim against the business or property owner. Your case in this situation would be similar to a standard premises liability case: You will need to be able to to show that the business or property owner was negligent in protecting people from injury. This could be because of slippery floors or steps, broken fixtures, code violations, snow or ice that has not been cleared, or inappropriately marked hazards.
There are some circumstances in which a city government may be liable for injuries sustained at a protest. If some city blocks or sections of a march route are poorly designed or maintained, or if you were injured because the city failed to properly inspect and implement safety measures, you may be able to hold the city liable.
Why Should You Sue?
You may be hesitant to seek compensation for your injuries. You shouldn’t be. If you were injured while protesting or marching, then you are already the type of person who believes in standing up for your rights and for the rights of others. You have a right to protest without being harmed. If someone has infringed on that right, they should be held accountable.
Filing a lawsuit can help you recoup the economic expenses you have to cover as a result of your injury, such as medical bills and time off from work. Also, winning a lawsuit against someone who intentionally or negligently caused your harm will send a powerful message to that person and to others that can help stop something similar from happening to someone else in the future.
Finally, if you bring a claim because of the injuries you incurred, you may be able to get compensation for pain and suffering as well for your actual damages, such as medical bills and time lost from work. You may also be able to seek punitive damages against the party responsible for your injury in order to punish them and to help ensure they don’t commit the same wrong against anyone else.
Help is Here
At the Cullotta Bravo Law Group we believe in protecting the right to protest and we do that by protecting protesters. If you have been injured in a protest, contact us today so that we can help you understand your rights and the remedies that are available.