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Your Rights If You’re Hurt during a Protest in Chicago

In this current climate, people are protesting for many different reasons. Most protests are fairly quiet and fairly peaceful. Sometimes, though, protests can lead to confrontations and assaults. The rights of anyone who is assaulted depend, in good part, on who caused the harm and how it was caused.

Police and law enforcement are generally required to comply with federal and state laws. If the assault is due to another citizen, then the victim may have the right to file a personal injury action against the assailant. Property owners who open their property to the public need to ensure their property is safe for everyone, including peaceful protestors.

Types of injuries at protests

Protests can be hurt if they slip and fall. They can be injured if they ae assaulted by anyone. Tragically, there are even cases where people have ridden their cars through the middle of a protest. Many injuries to demonstrators occur as police officers try to control or break up the demonstrations. Some of the ways protesters may be injured are by the following means:

  • Tear gas
  • Peppery spray
  • Batons
  • Rubber bullets

These devices, along with physical assaults, can cause:

  • Broken bones
  • Internal bleeding
  • Traumatic brain injuries and concussions
  • Burns and loss of breath
  • Increased blood pressure and heart failure

In some cases, these instruments can cause death which can necessitate wrongful death actions being filed against the wrongdoers.

Who is accountable for injuries to a protestor?

Law enforcement

If law enforcement committed the assault or the conduct that caused harm, even if it was unintentional, then the victims can normally file claims:

  • Against the law enforcement officer
  • Against the agency or department that the officer worked for
  • Against other agencies that had the right to control the officer’s conduct
  • Against any other responsible parties

Actions against law enforcement officers and the government agencies that have the duty to supervise these officers may be based on personal injury claims. In personal injury cases, we demand compensation for your physical pain, emotional suffering, medical expenses, and lost income.

Actions/lawsuits may also be based on violations of various federal and state civil rights laws. In these cases, there may not be a requirement that the protest be physically injured. Civil rights claims, based on misconduct by law enforcement during a protest, may be based on:

  • False arrests
  • Racial profiling
  • Illegal body or pat-down searches
  • Other statutory wrongs
  • In civil rights cases, law enforcement and the governing agencies may be required to pay statutory fines, legal fees, medical expenses, and other damages authorized by the statutes.


If an individual, such as someone who doesn’t agree with your protest position, attacks a protestor, the victim has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the attacker.

Property owners

If someone is hurt while walking on a property owner’s sidewalk or is hurt while buying food or drinks while on the property of the owner, the victim could file a premises liability claim against the property owner. Property owners have a duty to protect customers and visitors from slippery floors, broken tiles, torn carpets, loose railings, and anything that might cause a slip and fall.

In addition to the standard pain and suffering damages and economic damages when protestors are hurt, experienced Chicago protest injury lawyers often seek punitive damages against the wrongdoers to punish them and to help ensure they don’t commit the same wrong against anyone else.

At Gainsberg Law, we all understand people want to have their voices heard. Chicago personal injury attorney Neal S. Gainsberg understands these are unusual times. He has the experience and resources to help you get justice when you are injured while exercising your right to express your opinions. We are ready to hold anyone who caused your injuries accountable for changing your life. For help with any injuries the occurred during a protest, call us at 312.600.9585 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.