Fri 19 May, 2023 Litigation

How Do You Sue the NYPD?

If NYPD officers violated your civil rights, then you may be able to successfully sue the NYPD. Successful legal claims against the NYPD can result in you receiving significant financial compensation. Also, the officers at fault may be further disciplined or even fired by the NYPD.

This guide discusses the steps you should take to sue the NYPD if your rights were violated.

Do I Have a Claim Against the NYPD?

The first step is to determine whether you have a claim against the NYPD that could be successful in court. 

Although you can and should contact an attorney if you think you have a claim, a good test to determine whether it is worth your time and energy is to ask yourself the following two questions:

First, do you think you were falsely arrested without probable cause?

Second, do you think the police used unreasonable force against you?

If your answer to either of those questions is yes, then you should contact an NYC police misconduct lawyer for a consultation. A lawyer can fully evaluate your situation to determine all legal claims that you may have against the NYPD.

To be sure, the answers to those two questions can be complicated. For instance, if you were arrested based on false accusations of domestic violence, the police may still have had probable cause to arrest you based on the (false) accusations of the complainant. In that situation, even though you didn’t do anything wrong, neither did the police when they relied on the accusations of the complainant to arrest you. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your situation to determine the likelihood of success if you sue the NYPD.

Selecting Your Lawyer

If you think you may have a claim against the NYPD, then you should select which law firm you want to represent you for your lawsuit.

You should find a law firm that routinely handles police misconduct cases because such firms will be able to better assess whether you may be successful if you sue the police.  

Your relationship with your lawyer is critical because your lawyer will give you candid advice as your case plays out, such as whether to accept a settlement offer or instead push forward to trial. Consequently, you should speak with the lawyer you are interested in hiring and make sure that you feel good about the lawyer representing you. 

Many NYPD misconduct lawyers will take cases on a contingency basis. What that means is that you will have no out-of-pocket legal fees. The lawyer will simply take a percentage of the winnings if your lawsuit is successful.

The Stages of Your Lawsuit 

If you sue the NYPD, you can expect your case to go through several stages, including notice of claim, pleadings, discovery, settlement negotiations, and trial.

Notice of Claim

The first step in a lawsuit against the NYPD is to file a notice of claim. To bring claims against the NYPD for violating your rights under state law, you must file a notice of claim with the New York City Comptroller’s Office within 90 days of the incident.

The 90-day notice requirement is separate from New York statute of limitation laws. Statute of limitation laws dictate the timeframe within which you must file a lawsuit. On the other hand, the 90-day notice law requires prompt, 90-day notification after the incident, regardless of if and when a lawsuit is formally filed. The purpose of the notice requirement is for the NYPD to have the opportunity to preserve any evidence, such as body camera footage.

Although some exceptions exist to the 90-day notice requirement, typically your lawsuit will be dismissed if the 90-day notice rule was not followed. Therefore, it’s important to speak to an NYC police misconduct lawyer promptly after the police encounter to ensure that you comply with the notice requirements for a lawsuit against the NYPD.


Your lawsuit against the NYPD officially begins after your lawyer files a complaint in court. This early stage of a case is sometimes referred to the “pleadings” stage. In the complaint, your lawyer will outline all your legal claims against the NYPD, including both factual and legal assertions.

After receiving your complaint, the defendants (the NYPD and its officers) will file an “answer,” which is a response to the complaint. In the answer, the defendants will admit or deny the allegations listed in the complaint, and the defendants may also assert defenses.


The lengthiest stage of the case is the discovery phase, which is after the pleadings stage and when both parties exchange all the information they have relevant to the case. 

The discovery stage of a case can last a long time because both parties may need to conduct depositions, which is when witnesses testify under oath. Parties may also need to subpoena records from various entities.

Once the discovery process is complete, both sides should have a more complete understanding of what happened during the incident.


Once discovery is completed, both sides may file legal motions that address the facts established through the discovery process. Typically, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss the case. If the judge denies that motion and the defendant does not make an acceptable settlement offer, then the case will go to trial.

Settlement Negotiations

Settlement negotiations can occur at any point in a case. However, the true value of a case is better known by both sides after the discovery process is concluded. Therefore, meaningful settlement negotiations often occur after discovery is complete.

Settlement negotiations can involve strategy. Some defendants who know that the discovery process will reveal that they caused more damages may want to settle early to prevent the plaintiff’s case from becoming more valuable. On the other hand, some plaintiffs who think the discovery process may not increase the value of the case may try to settle early to avoid increasing legal costs by too much. Each case has its own considerations, and you and your attorney can develop the right strategy for your case.


At trial, a jury will determine whether it believes you have proven that the police violated your rights. If the jury finds that your rights were violated by the police, then they will determine how much money the police must give you for your wrongdoing.

Your Compensation

You will be compensated for the police misconduct if the NYPD offers you a settlement offer that you accept or if you go to trial and a jury awards you money after finding the police liable.

The amount of money you receive will be dependent on many factors, such as:

  • The extent of any physical injuries you suffered
  • How long you were wrongfully incarcerated
  • Emotional trauma you experienced
  • Whether the police fabricated allegations
  • Economic harm to you, such as lost wages

Your NYC police misconduct can evaluate the specifics of your case to assess how much money you may be able to receive if you decide to sue the NYPD.

Need Help? Contact NYC Police Misconduct Lawyer Cody Warner

If you think that you may want to bring a lawsuit against the NYPD, contact Cody Warner for a free consultation. He can develop a comprehensive strategy to make the NYPD pay for what they did to you.