Protest Injuries: Who Pays for the Damages?


The First Amendment covered the right to protest and is a foundational freedom of the United States. Unfortunately, in the exercise of this fundamental right, innocent Americans may be harmed, oftentimes by the very police forces hired to serve and protect them. If you are injured during a protest, you may be wondering how you can obtain compensation and, crucially, who will pay it. Finding out who is ultimately responsible can help you pursue your personal injury case in the right direction.


In many instances of violence at protests, the police are found to be a main instigator. Injuries are commonly inflicted on protesters as police engage in a tactic known as “kettling,” whereby they confine protesters into a small area en masse and move in to arrest the entire group, which may contain hundreds of people. Should you suffer an injury at a protest, you may be able to sue the police departments that are involved in it, especially if the protest had no signs of violence and was subjected to an unprovoked police attack. If you are taken into custody, you may suffer injuries as you are detained.


Unfortunately, many protests in recent years have been marred by attacks by outside individuals against protesters. Many vehicular attacks have been launched by individual extremists against masses of protesters, injuring and killing many protesters. Individuals who launch such deliberate attacks on protesters may be held criminally and financially liable for damages their victims suffered. 

If you’ve been attacked at a protest, be sure to document the incident, seek medical attention, and speak with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process of filing a claim and obtaining compensation. The attacker could face significant penalties in the form of criminal charges and civil suits filed against them to seek damages for the victims.

Health Insurance

We’ve all seen images of protesters who have been brutalized, many with serious wounds that require hospitalization. After suffering an injury at a protest, you might require medical treatment for the following:

  • Rubber bullet wounds
  • Tear gas or pepper spray exposure
  • Hearing loss from a flashbang
  • Physical injuries such as bruises or cuts from police or other protesters
  • Mental or emotional trauma and anguish

The good news is there have been few reported cases of insurers rejecting claims made by people who attended recent protests, especially those around the Black Lives Matter movement. However, should you suffer an injury at a protest and your medical provider reject your claim, it’s vital to speak with a law firm with experience in handling protest injuries, such as Ben Crump Law.

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The Town or City

If a protest sees violence done against attendees, the town or city in which it occurred could be held responsible. Local authorities have a duty to ensure that citizens can engage in the exercise of their rights in a safe environment. If they failed to do this and an attack occurred because of negligence by local authorities, then they could be responsible for compensating victims of violence.  

Seek Legal Advice

Peaceful protests aren’t without risks, and it is always possible for one to turn violent, often at the hands of police or outside agitators. Should you suffer injuries during one, speaking with a lawyer who can help you obtain compensation is vital. The sooner you move to file a claim, the better chance you’ll have of winning. We have years of experience in assisting civil rights cases and can fight on your behalf to see that your civil rights are fully upheld and you are awarded the compensation that you deserve for their violation.

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