Mon 03 Jun, 2024 Police Misconduct

How to Bring a Police Brutality Lawsuit

If you are the victim of police brutality, you may want to bring a police brutality lawsuit.

This guide discusses how to bring a police brutality lawsuit. It discusses the factors that affect whether you have a strong claim. It also discusses the stages that your lawsuit can go through until it is resolved.

If you are interested in suing the NYPD for police brutality, contact Cody Warner, P.C. for a free consultation. We can evaluate your claim to determine your best path forward to make the police pay for their wrongdoing.

What Makes a Winning Police Brutality Lawsuit?

The two key ingredients for a winning police brutality lawsuit are clear liability and damages.


Quite obviously, to have a strong case against the police, they must be liable for your injury.

With some cases, liability is very clear, but with other cases liability is murky. The clearer the police liability is, the stronger your claim is, and the more likely the police will agree to a substantial settlement offer.

The primary question when assessing liability for police brutality claims is whether the force used by the police was reasonable under the circumstances. Sometimes the police were clearly unreasonable and therefore violated your rights. Other times, the police conduct may have arguably been justified, depending on the circumstances.

An experienced police brutality law firm can review the specifics of your claim to assess liability and determine if you have other claims, like false arrest.


If liability is established, the next question is: how badly were you injured?

The more you were injured by the police brutality, the more compensation you can expect to receive.

When present, these common factors can result in a higher payout:

  • Bruising;
  • Cuts;
  • Stitches;
  • Broken bones;
  • Torn ligaments;
  • Concussions;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Surgeries;
  • Physical therapy; and
  • Post-traumatic distress disorder.

If you suffered from any of the listed injuries, you might have a solid case against the police. If you want to know more details about a possible case against the police, contact us for a free, individualized assessment of your case.

Stages of a Police Brutality Lawsuit

If you bring forward a police brutality claim against the NYPD, your case may go through the following phases:

Notice of Claim

Any person who makes a claim against the City of New York (the entity you sue when you have a claim against the NYPD) must file a notice of claim before filing a lawsuit. A notice of claim must be filed with the City Comptroller within 90 days of the incident.

50h Hearing

After a notice of claim is filed, the City will conduct a 50h hearing. At that hearing, you will testify about the police misconduct.

Early Settlement

After the 50h hearing, the City may be willing to make a settlement offer. Typically, it takes about six months from the filing of your notice of claim to receive a settlement offer.

If you are satisfied with the settlement offer, you can accept it, and your case will be concluded. On the other hand, if you don’t like the offer, you can formally commence a lawsuit.

Although you can potentially receive more compensation by taking a case to trial, trials always have some inherent risk. Also, a case can last years until it is resolved.

The decision to file a lawsuit is significant, and your lawyer can advise you about the pros and cons of accepting the settlement offer or filing a lawsuit.

File a Lawsuit

If you don’t accept any settlement offers put on the table, then your lawyer will file a lawsuit.

A police brutality lawsuit can be filed in state court or federal court. Generally speaking, a federal lawsuit will move more quickly (although still relatively slowly), but jury verdicts are sometimes higher in state court.


Once a lawsuit is filed, the discovery process begins. Discovery is the exchange of evidence. In police brutality cases, that means that the City must turn over all NYPD records, like police reports and body camera footage, and you must turn over information like medical records or photographs that document your injury. You will also be deposed, which is when the lawyer for the City asks you questions about what happened.


At any point in the lawsuit process, the City may make amended settlement offers. If none of the offers are acceptable, then you can go to trial if the judge believes there is sufficient evidence for a jury to decide the case.

At trial, lawyers for both sides will call witnesses, present evidence, and make their arguments to the jury. If the jury decides in your favor, they will determine how much compensation you are owed.

Need Help?

If you believe you have a police brutality case against the NYPD, contact Cody Warner, P.C. We can help ensure that your get maximum compensation for your injuries.