We’ve all been to events or places that are manned by security guards, and there’s no denying that these individuals serve a valuable purpose. It’s quite common to see stories on the news of dangerous incidents at a store, concert, government building, etc., and thankfully, the situation was quickly contained by the heroic actions of a security guard. On the other hand, negligent security guards can also be the cause of injury to others when they use excessive force, like chokeholds.
There are laws in place that dictate the type of restraint and level of force that can be used by security personnel. Furthermore, security guards must exercise good judgment in how they deal with members of the public, meaning they should not escalate to acts of violence unless the person is posing a clear and present danger to themselves or others. Sadly, we see entirely too many incidents where a rogue security guard injures or kills someone due to their failure to follow the rules.
Improper Use of Chokeholds by Security Guards
Chokeholds have come under fire in recent years due to the rise is police brutality incidents. Most notably, there was the murder of George Floyd in 2020, in which police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes, causing him to die from suffocation. This is an example of a carotid restraint, though some have also referred to it as a sleeper hold. There is a difference between these types of chokeholds, by the way, which we will discuss in later sections.
Carotid holds are extremely controversial, and most people agree that it’s unnecessary in most cases. That’s why Chauvin’s actions were deemed as excessive violence, not to mention, the cause of George Floyd’s death. Most police departments have banned the use of sleeper holds following the George Floyd incident, which means security guards should also refrain from using this dangerous technique. In general, chokeholds should be used with extreme discretion, if at all, by security personnel at malls, buildings, private events, etc. This is due to their potential to cause death, serious injuries, and lifelong psychological damage.
Were you placed in a chokehold by a member of security while you were at an event or on someone else’s property? Did you lose a family member or spouse due to excessive violence by a security guard? As the victim of security guard abuse, you may be entitled to monetary compensation from the property owner or the security firm that the guard is employed with. However, assault and battery lawsuits are very complex in nature, so you should retain the services of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact DTLA Law Group and schedule a free case review if you or someone you know was assaulted by a security guard.
The Impact of a Chokehold on Your Health
Chokeholds are a general term that’s used to describe different techniques for restraining someone by the neck. Methods used by security guards in the U.S. generally involve one of the following:
- Arm bar hold – this is the method that most people are familiar with when they hear the term “chokehold.” Essentially, the forearm is pressed into the person’s neck in order to put pressure on the trachea. This restricts the person’s air flow, so it’s extremely important to apply the right amount of force and remove the arm once the person stops fighting.
- Carotid hold – this is an aggravated type of chokehold where the entire arm is tightly gripped around the person’s neck. As in the George Floyd case, one can also pin the person to the ground and use their knee to cut off circulation. Either way, there is a compression of the carotid arteries, which can easily cause death.
Even in cases where the victim survives the incident, they may end up with severe health conditions, like heart damage or brain injury. That’s why medical experts all over the world have spoken out against the use of chokeholds by security guards and members of law enforcement.
Use of Sleeper Holds by Security Guards
In this section, we will talk about sleeper holds, which is a type of chokehold where pressure is placed on the sides of the neck, rather than the front. This is done to make the person “pass out,” meaning they lose consciousness, while their access to airflow is unaffected. Sleeper holds are taught in martial arts and self-defense classes, and the key is to release the person as soon as they go limp.
The problem is, it’s very easy to overdo a sleeper hold, especially when your emotions are out of control during a heated confrontation. If a security guard does not release the person in time, brain damage or death is the likely outcome. Or, if the hold is done incorrectly and there is pressure on the airways, that will likely result in severe injuries or fatality, as you are cutting off the person’s ability to breathe.
As a result, security guards should refrain from using sleeper holds, as there are other ways to protect yourself or restrain a person who’s being uncooperative. But chokeholds and excessive force incidents among security guards continues to be a problem at all sorts of establishments. Our assault and battery lawyers are here for you if you were injured from a chokehold by a security guard. Call us today and learn about your rights as a victim of excessive violence.
Injuries from being Placed in a Chokehold
Injuries to the brain are the biggest concern when it comes to chokeholds, due to lack of oxygen from restriction to the airways. This happens from pressure being applied to the trachea or the carotid arteries, which are associated with permanent brain damage or coma, and even death. That’s not to say that chokeholds are banned altogether in California, but security companies should follow the guidelines set by local police, and this is where many of these companies fail in their duty of care to the public.
Aside from brain damage, there are many other injuries you can end up with from an assault by a security guard:
- Bruises, scratches, and deep cuts
- Fractures and broken bones
- Vision / hearing loss
- Chronic ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Internal bleeding and damage to internal organs
- Neck / spinal cord damage
We also have to consider the mental injuries that victims have to deal with, as security guard assaults can be very traumatic for most people. Panic attacks, insomnia, phobias, and other signs of post-traumatic stress may require the victim to seek therapy from a licensed counselor. Paying for these and other medical treatments should not be your responsibility when you have been hurt by someone else’s misconduct.
Our legal team is more than ready to fight for you and the compensation you deserve, so please take a moment to contact us.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Excessive Violence by a Security Guard?
Yes, if you were the victim of bodily harm due to a security guard’s failure to exercise good judgment, you have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit. Essentially, security personnel are specially trained (or they should be) to use the least amount of force that’s necessary in any given situation. There are, of course, incidents where violence must be used in order for the security guard to protect themselves or others. But these are rare occasions, and as a general rule, chokeholds should not be used to subdue or restrain someone.
If a security guard placed you in a chokehold unnecessarily, you have the option to sue them for monetary damages. But there may be other parties that you can go after under California law. For example, you may have a case against the owner of the property or the employer of the security guard. These can be one and the same, but many business owners use third party security firms, and this will be the deciding factor in who is liable for your injuries.
Aside from determining which party to sue, you will need evidence to succeed in a lawsuit for assault and battery by a security guard. This includes medical records, witness statements, expert testimony, surveillance footage and more, depending on the complexity of your incident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you build a strong case and obtain the payment you are entitled to.
Monetary Damages for Chokehold Injury Victims
Those who have been injured by a chokehold are often left with catastrophic injuries, which require long-term care, perhaps for the rest of their lives. Compensation is essential to recovering your losses, whether you are the injured party or the victim’s family member. Possible damages from a chokehold by a security guard lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses, including future / lifetime care costs
- Lost wages and/or lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Property damage
- Attorney’s fees
- Punitive damages
As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, chokehold incidents pose a high risk of death, especially when they are employed by security guards without proper training or control of their emotions. If you relative, spouse, of registered domestic partner died due to a security guard placing them in a chokehold, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit for the following payments:
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- Funeral expenses
- Cost of medical treatments
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income / work benefits
- Loss of consortium
- Cost of hiring an attorney
It should be noted that in 2020, a bill was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, which banned the use of carotid holds by police and security guards. But laws cannot actually stop overly aggressive individuals from using these techniques and devastating the lives of many people.
We believe that it’s our moral and ethical duty to fight against police and security guard brutality. There is the possibility of criminal prosecution for these incidents, but civil lawsuits also play a role in bringing justice to victims and their loved ones.
Whether you need advice on a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claims, our law firm is ready to assist you. We provide free legal services under the Zero Fee Guarantee, so you pay nothing out of pocket if you decide to move forward with a lawsuit. Our payment is included in the compensation award you receive at the end of your case, and if we don’t win your case, you owe us $0 in legal fees.
The first step is to contact us and schedule a time to discuss your case with a security guard assault and battery attorney. We look forward to hearing from you and fighting for justice on your behalf.