If you are the victim of false imprisonment, you may be entitled to receive compensation for injuries, both to pay medical bills and other costs, caused by the false imprisonment and for any pain, suffering and emotional distress.
False imprisonment is the unlawful restraint of a person against his or her will by someone without legal authority or justification. For example, an armed bank robber yells at the customers to get down on the floor, threatening to shoot them if they try to leave. Since they know they might be killed if they try to leave, they are being held against their will. The captive bank customers may be able to claim damages for civil false imprisonment, and the bank robber may be charged with the crime of false imprisonment. Even the police may be charged with false imprisonment if they exceed their authority (such as detaining someone without proper, legal justification).
In fact, any person who intentionally restricts the freedom of movement of another person without their consent (and without legal justification) may be liable for false imprisonment, which is both a crime and a tort (a civil wrong). It can occur in a room, on the streets or even in a moving vehicle—just as long as the victim is unable to move freely, against his or her will.
Similarly, "false arrest" is when someone arrests another individual without the legal authority to do so, which becomes false imprisonment the moment he or she is taken into custody.
In order for someone to commit false imprisonment on you in California:
•They must willfully detain;
•This detention must have been without your consent; and
• This detention must be unlawful. In other words, you were not a prisoner of the law for committing a crime or a mental patient requiring restraint by law.
False imprisonment can come in many forms including any threat or use of authority that confines you against your will. While physical force is often used, it is not required. Moreover, the restraint of a person may be imposed by physical barriers (such as being locked in a room or car) or by unreasonable duress (such as holding someone "within the bounds of a fixed area" over a long period of time).
A person claiming false imprisonment must have reasonably believed that they were being confined. A court will determine whether his belief was reasonable by determining what a reasonable prudent person under similar circumstances would do or believe.
In addition, the person doing the confinement must have intended to confine, and not have the privilege to do so. Two examples of having the privilege to confine another and it not be deemed false imprisonment are shopkeepers while investigating shoplifting at a store can hold or confine suspects for a reasonable period of time to complete their investigation. Another example are civilians (non-law enforcement) who have witnessed a felony may hold or confine the suspects for a reasonable period of time until the police arrive. In both instances, the conduct is not legal false imprisonment.
Examples of false imprisonment may include:
•A person locking another person in a room without their permission
•A person holding something of value to another person with the intent to make the person stay in a certain place, and without the consent of the person whose valuables are being held
•A person grabbing onto another person without his or her consent and holding him or her so that they cannot leave
•A security guard or store owner who detains you for an unreasonable amount of time based on the way you look or dress
•An employer who detains someone for questioning for an unreasonable amount of time for suspected theft
•Nursing home staff who medicates a patient without their consent under physical or emotional threat and the medication prevents their freedom of movement
Conversely, things that do not constitute false imprisonment may include:
•A claim that you were falsely imprisoned simply because you were found innocent of a crime
•A person who grabs your arm but you know you can free yourself from his grip without fear of retaliation
•A storekeeper who detains you for a reasonable amount of time for questioning based on probable cause, such as if she saw you take a concealed item out of the store without paying for it
•A person who closes the front door and asks you not to leave, but you know you can leave through an open side door
You May Be Eligible to Receive Damages
You may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages. Generally speaking, economic damages are those to replace money you have lost through expenditures or lost earnings. Examples of these damages include, but are not limited to, loss of earnings and future earning potential. In addition, if there is an injury or death, economic damages include medical expenses to be repaid to your healthcare insurance company, Medicare, Medi-Cal or any other medical treatment or care provider engaged on your behalf. Economic damages also include those for expenses for treatment you are expected to need in the future, along with out-of-pocket payments for medical devices, prescriptions, transportation, household assistance, and any other such expenses you have had or may experience in the future. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Non-economic damages are serious losses that are more difficult to assign a dollar value, including pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, and loss of quality of life.
If I Am the Victim of False Imprisonment, What Do I Do Next?
If you are the victim of false imprisonment, contact the Lee Law Group immediately and we will assist you throughout your entire ordeal. It is important to contact us, or some other attorney, as soon as possible because if you eventually have to file a lawsuit you must file it within a specified period of time by law. This period of time, known as the ‘statute of limitations’, could bar your case if you do not act in time.
Once you contact the Lee Law Group, first, we will investigate your case to determine if you were falsely imprisoned under the law, if it is feasible to bring a lawsuit and if the perpetrator has any valid, potential defenses. Moreover, we will evaluate the damages caused and the monetary value of these damages. If you are injured, we will work closely with your medical care providers or use one of the skilled specialists we associate with to ensure you obtain the best possible care.
Once we have a firm idea of the costs of your damages we will write a settlement demand letter to the person or company responsible for your false imprisonment. At times insurance companies may get involved at this point for false imprisonment even though this is considered an “intentional act” because often, negligent decisions cause a store employee or security guard to falsely imprison an innocent party. Negotiations with the offending person, company or insurance company are required at this point. The Lee Law Group will conduct these negotiations until we have a settlement agreement that you can accept because final approval of any potential settlement rests with you, not the attorneys. Many cases are settled in this way. However, if the offending person, company or insurer refuses to offer a settlement that you can accept, we will file a lawsuit to obtain your compensation.
What Happens if I File a Lawsuit for False Imprisonment?
If the Lee Law Group is forced to file a lawsuit for false imprisonment to obtain your just compensation we will litigate your case from start to finish explaining the process to you every step of the way. We will instruct you on what to do and when to do it, making the process as simple as possible. A great majority of cases are settled after filing a lawsuit without having to actually conduct a trial. However, if a trial is necessary we at the Lee Law Group are experienced in trial work and will energetically try your case.
If you are the victim of False Imprisonment, contact the Lee Law Group so we can fight for you.