While you are in prison, you are dependent on the corrections system for all of your basic needs, including your medical care. People who get sick in prison have the right to adequate healthcare for their medical needs. In addition, prisoners with medical conditions should not have to go without care simply because they are serving a prison sentence. Unfortunately, in some cases, medical needs are met with willful indifference or hostility from prison staff and administration.
When medical neglect or medical deprivation causes further injury and pain and suffering to prisoners, the inmate often suffers extremely serious and completely avoidable adverse consequences. Fortunately, in many cases, people who are affected by prison medical neglect can recover compensation by filing a civil rights lawsuit against the federal, state or local government.
Not surprisingly, however, obtaining a judgment or negotiating a settlement with the government can be a difficult task and involves complex federal law, so anyone affected by medical neglect or medical deprivation in custody should speak to an experienced Philadelphia police brutality lawyer at the Zeiger Firm as soon as possible.
Prisoner Rights to Medical Care
Offenders in local, state, and federal prisons have the right to receive medical attention and care when needed, including for both long-term illnesses and short-term injuries or conditions. Prisoners should also receive mental health care when it is appropriate based on the specific situation. Medical care provided to prisoners should meet the standard of being “adequate” given the circumstances.
These rights apply to individuals serving a prison sentence following a criminal conviction, as well as individuals detained while their cases are pending. Prison management and staff should never show deliberate indifference to the medical needs of anyone in custody. Furthermore, they should never engage in medical deprivation when they are aware of the fact that prisoners need care. If they do, prisoners can suffer serious and preventable medical complications, unnecessary pain and suffering, or avoidable death. If this happens, discuss legal options with an experienced civil rights attorney in Pennsylvania right away.
Examples of Medical Neglect in Prison
Anyone can experience sudden health issues or injuries, and individuals detained in state prison are no different. Some people enter custody with known medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, and more. Others sustain acute injuries in accidents or due to violence while they are serving a prison sentence. Some prisoners develop health issues while in custody that might be short-term, chronic, or even terminal.
Medical neglect and medical deprivation can take a variety of forms in prisons, including the following:
- Failing to acknowledge and address health complaints from inmates
- Not providing medical attention following inmate accidents or violence
- Not administering the necessary medications or treatment needed to manage or cure inmate health conditions
- Releasing inmates from medical quarters prematurely
- Delaying the treatment of an inmate’s medical condition
- Not responding to emergency health issues as soon as possible
- Failing to diagnose a serious health condition of an inmate
In reality, the above can manifest in a variety of complications and injuries for inmates. Some practical examples of prison medical neglect can include:
- Not providing medication for heart disease, resulting in preventable cardiac arrest
- Not diagnosing or treating appendicitis, which leads the appendix to rupture, causing life-threatening infections
- Not transported inmates for medical care following a serious altercation or violence by a guard or another inmate
- Failing to diagnose serious conditions such as cancer, which allows the condition to escalate, requiring more invasive treatment or rendering the condition untreatable
- Administering the wrong medication to an inmate with epilepsy, resulting in a seizure that causes additional injuries or brain damage
Medical neglect in prisons can take many forms, and the result can harm inmates in various ways. If adequate medical attention could have prevented the harm, you should hold the prison accountable for your suffering and losses.
Protecting Your Rights After Medical Neglect
Many inmates and their families do not realize the extent of an inmate’s constitutional rights while in custody. When state or local prison officials violate someone’s rights, the affected inmate can seek relief for their injuries and losses by filing a claim under 42 U.S. Code § 1983, known as Section 1983. Generally, state and local governments are immune from civil liability, though Section 1983 provides the right of injured individuals to take action against government actors who violate their rights and/or cause harm.
Though a 1983 medical negligence claim will name the state or local prison as the defendant, you must file this claim in federal court, as you will base your claim on federal law. Specifically, you need to file your 1983 claim in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania if the jail or prison is in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, Northampton County, or Philadelphia County.
You can expect the government to fight against liability for its medical neglect in prison in a highly complicated Section 1983 claim. For this reason, seek help from the right civil rights lawyer who can assess your case and handle every step of the legal process. The Zeiger Firm is ready to protect your rights.
Sometimes, Prisoners Can Assert Claims Against Private Parties
In some cases, prisoners are housed at private jails, private halfway houses, and private medical facilities. In these instances, prisoners can still sue for a medical deprivation claim. While the inner workings of the lawsuit against the private party provider may differ, the lawyers at the Zeiger Firm have the knowhow to sue the private entity in federal court and make them pay for their mistakes.
If an inmate is denied medical care or given inadequate at a private facility, the attorneys at the Zeiger Firm are ready to go to battle. The willful difference by staff at private facilities is not acceptable, and when a client winds up in worse shape due to the deprivation or delay in care, a lawsuit must follow to correct the wrongs and to prevent future people in our community from being hurt.
While our focus for our client base is often medical neglect and medical deprivation, our lawyers are cognizant that often the main issue is medical malpractice. When we sue for medical malpractice, we must prove that the medical professional was negligent–that the treatment they provided did not meet the stand of care. The standard of care is set by the medical community.
A delay in care can also be medical malpractice in the prison context. The delay can cause a worsening of treatment and the condition of the patient. Obviously in the case of cancer or diabetes this can be devastating. This analysis includes everything from the nurse, doctors, pharmacists, and surgeons. Further, the last of post-surgical care can also be medical malpractice.
Understand, our claims often involve both a medical deprivation claim and a medical malpractice claim. The inmate is permitted to bring both.
To determine whether you have a medical malpractice, medical deprivation, or willful indifference claim, you should discuss your situation with our civil rights attorneys as soon as you can.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation With a Prison Medical Neglect Attorney in Pennsylvania
If you suffered harm from medical neglect while in state custody, you may recover compensation for your losses. Experienced Philadelphia civil rights lawyer Brian Zeiger knows how to get injured clients the compensation to which they are entitled. To schedule a free case evaluation with Mr. Zeiger, call our office today at (215) 546-0340 or send us an email through our online contact form.