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Who’s Responsible If I’m Injured at a Protest?


Downtown Indianapolis has been the site of several recent marches and protests, drawing crowds from across Indiana and from neighboring states. Regardless of what the march or protest is about, the safety of its participants should be the first priority for organizers.

Even when protests remain peaceful, there’s always a partial risk of injury for those who attend. Large crowds pose risks for falls, trips, and in some cases, structural damage. But whose job is it to keep you safe during a peaceful public rally?

Possible Responsible Parties in Protest Injuries


The first thing to consider when deciding to attend a protest or march is that the act of doing so makes you inherently more vulnerable. By leaving the safety of privately owned residences, you become increasingly less protected by the law for your injuries, except in certain cases.

As previous court cases have found again and again, the state in which you reside cannot be held liable for injuries caused by third parties, no matter where the injury occurred. Keep this in mind as you demonstrate your rights as a citizen of Indiana.

Other Protesters and Protest Organizers

The most likely and straightforward liability for a protester’s injury will probably come from a person who directly causes the injury. If another protester or counter-protester assaults you, that would be a criminal case.

If, however, a person’s negligence directly causes your injury, that could be a personal injury case. The organizers of the protest or march may be responsible for your injury if they neglected to create a safe environment for participants. If, for example, organizers did not hire enough security for the event and someone assaults you, you may have both a criminal case against the person who attacked you as well as a premises liability claim against the organizers.

The organizers of the event may also be responsible if you’re involved in a pedestrian accident. Organizers of marches must work with the city and the police to properly shut down streets if necessary. If organizers encourage participants to take to the streets without shutting them down, they may be responsible if you get into an accident with a car or bicycle.

Property Owners

While Indianapolis’s protests have taken place mainly on public streets, it’s possible for some demonstrators to be injured in a parking garage or other private property on the way to or from the event.

In these events, the regular premises liability criteria apply: the injured person must be able to demonstrate the property owner’s negligence in protecting people from injury while on his or her property. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Slippery floors or steps
  • Broken fixtures
  • Code violations
  • Snow or ice that has not been cleared
  • Inappropriately marked hazards

If you’ve been injured on private property during a protest, and the cause was similar to one of the above, you may have a valid premises liability case.

City Officials

In rare circumstances, the city itself may be liable for injuries sustained at a protest. Police officers and other personnel are often provided to increase security at planned protests or rallies, and officials will often require additional safety precautions to be taken by the event organizers.

However, some city blocks and certain areas of a march route may be poorly designed, improperly evaluated, or outright ignored. If protesters are injured because the city failed to properly inspect and implement safety measures, the city may be liable for their injuries. An example would be failing to provide more than one exit route for protesters at any given point during an event.

As mentioned, these circumstances are rare, but not unheard of. If you believe you may have been injured due to the city’s negligence, call an Indianapolis personal injury attorney for free consultation.

Help Filing a Premises Liability Claim

If you’ve been injured while protesting or marching, then you likely already have a firm belief in standing up for your rights and the rights of others. It may disappoint you, then, to learn how difficult it can be to get the justice you deserve after a personal injury. What’s worse is that, if you’re injured, you may not have your usual energy to stand up for yourself against insurance companies trying to diminish or dismiss your claim.

Hensley Legal Group’s premises liability attorneys are passionate about serving Hoosiers who have been wrongfully injured. We’ll stand up for your rights while you focus on what’s important: getting back on your feet. To get started, call us or contact us online for a free conversation about your case.