Fri 11 Aug, 2023 Police Misconduct

How Much is a Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit Worth?

A wrongful arrest lawsuit can be worth millions of dollars, or it can be worth nothing.

With such a wide range of outcomes, how can you determine how much your wrongful arrest lawsuit might be worth?

Several publicly available documents shed light on what sort of payout you can expect in New York City. NYC publishes data on its payouts for lawsuits against the NYPD.

Cody Warner, P.C. has analyzed these records to provide an overview of how much your wrongful arrest lawsuit could be worth, at least in New York City.

This guide discusses the important factors that affect the value of a case. It also provides a general sense of the worth of different types of wrongful arrest lawsuits. Finally, it offers some strategy tips to maximize your payout.

What is a Wrongful Arrest?

The legal term for a wrongful arrest is “false arrest.” A false arrest occurs when:

  1. The police intended to confine the person;
  2. The person was conscious of the confinement;
  3. The person did not consent to the confinement; and
  4. The confinement was not otherwise privileged.

Nine times out of ten, the issue in false arrest cases is element number four–whether the confinement was privileged. A confinement is privileged when it is supported by probable cause. Consquently, wrongful arrest cases typically come down to whether the police had probable cause to justify your arrest. If your lawyer can establish that the police did not have probable cause to arrest you, then police liable is likely proven. Then, the question becomes how much the police owe you for the wrongful arrest.

Factors that Affect the Worth of a Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit

In all police misconduct cases, several factors are commonly assessed to determine how much a lawsuit is worth. These factors include:

Hours in Jail

The number of hours you are wrongfully in jail will affect your payout. A conservative estimate is that you can get $1,000 per hour of wrongful incarceration. This figure can go up to many thousands of dollars per hour if aggravating factors apply. For instance, if you had medical complications after your arrest and had to go to the hospital in handcuffs, then your payout could be higher.

Number of Court Appearances

The more times you had to appear in court to fight false charges, the more you suffered from the stress of criminal charges hanging over your head, and you likely had to take off work to attend court. Therefore, the longer a malicious prosecution against you continues, the more compensation that is due to you.

Injury by Police

If the police used excessive force against you, then your compensation should be increased. Naturally, the more injured you are, the more compensation you are entitled to receive for the police brutality. For instance, a case involving minor brusing obviously wont result in the same compensation as a wrongful death lawsuit.

Police Deception

If the police were especially deceptive when they arrested you, your payout could be higher. For instance, there is a difference between a police officer mischaracterizing an incident compared to an officer planting evidence. Although the police should compensate you if they misstate facts, if they were malevolent by doing something like plantings drugs on you, your payout will be higher.

Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit Payout Ranges

Every case is different, and you should speak with a false arrest lawyer to determine the value of your case. That said, if you analyze the published data in NYC, certain trends are clear.

To get a payout in the following categories, certain factors are likely in play:

$1,000,000+ Payouts

Million dollar payouts for police misconduct cases are very rare. They are the payouts that make the news, but the vast majority of settlements and verdicts are not for millions of dollars.

To get a $1,000,000+ payout, you will likely have wrongfully spent decades in prison, or you are suing on behalf of the estate of a person who was wrongfully killed by the police.

$200,000+ Payouts

Payouts over $200,000 are very rare and represent a small minority of total payouts.

To get a payout over $200,000, you likely must have permanent injury or disfigurement from police brutality.

Some cases results in a payout over $200,000 even without permanent injury, but those are very rare. Such cases include cases where the police were incredibly corrupt and did things like plant evidence on you.

$100,000+ Payouts

A common theme with payouts above $100,000 is that they involve serious physical injury. In other words, the Plaintiffs who recovered six-figure awards were people who were badly injured by the police. Even if their injuries were not permanent, at the time they were probably brought to the hospital due to police brutality.

$25,000+ Payouts

Most cases that result in a payout over $25,000 involve excessive force. Although you can get over $25,000 in certain situations even if the police didn’t injure you, those are exceptions to the general trend.

$10,000 – $20,000 Payouts

If you were wrongfully incarcerated for over 24 hours, you may be able to receive a payout in the $10,000-$20,000 range.

Under $10,000 Payouts

If you were wrongfully incarcerated for only several hours, your payout will likely be under $10,000, even if you had to later appear in court. Most people who received Desk Appearance Tickets for false charges can expect a payout under $10,000.

Tips to Maximize the Worth of Your Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit

What are some takeaways from the data?

If you were unlawfully arrested but not injured by the police, you likely will not receive a payout over $25,000. The payout will loosely correspond to $1,000 for each hour you were unlawfully incarcerated.

If you were arrested without injury, it may be useful to aim for a quick settlement with the police. The reason for that is most false arrest lawyers take cases on a contingency basis. Contingency agreements mean that you pay nothing out of pocket, and your lawyer deducts his hourly fees from your payout if you win.

In a smaller case without injury, if your case drags out, the legal fees owed may become as big as your payout, so you end up with a smaller payout. A quick settlement can help ensure you get as much of the award as possible.

On the other hand, if you have a very valuable case, then it may be worth it to take the time to build up the case to maximize a big payout. The increased legal fees from building up the case end up still being small relative to the size of the bigger payout.

How Much Your Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit is Worth? Contact Cody Warner, P.C. To Find Out.

If you think you have a claim against the NYPD, contact us for a free consultation. We can assess whether you might have a successful claim and discuss your possible payout.