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Know What it Takes to File a Civil Rights Lawsuit?

Know What it Takes to File a Civil Rights Lawsuit?

At Shiller Preyar, we have handled over 100 police misconduct cases. People do not often know that these lawsuits can take years from start to finish—and the details of the long and labored process can be mystifying and off-putting. It’s incredibly important to pursue your rights in the face of police misconduct, however, no matter how daunting the process may seem. Though no two police misconduct cases are the same, we’ve prepared a rough timeline of how the capable attorneys at Shiller Preyar prepare a “typical” lawsuit.

Initial Intake 

There is no one correct answer to the question  “Is it too late for me to file a lawsuit?” You need an experienced attorney to determine if your window of opportunity to file is still open. After the incident, you should contact us via phone or email so we can schedule and conduct your initial intake. During the intake, we will ask you questions about what happened before, during, and after the incident in question.

If we believe you have a viable case, an attorney from our office will meet with you in person to gather more information. Your case may be accepted that day, but many cases may need further review. Our civil rights attorneys meet once a week to discuss new intakes, and we will decide if we will take your case on here. If we decide to take your case, and you hire us, we begin the stages of filing and pursuing your case.

Filing the Lawsuit

Each case is lodged by filing a formal “Complaint” with the courts. The Complaint outlines the incident, names the defendants in your suit, and states what claims you have. In police misconduct cases, the listed defendants often include the one or more police officers (both on- and off-duty) in question, and the city or town where the officers are employed.

 Once the case is filed, all defendants will be notified and given the opportunity to secure their own counsel, with whom we will share all of the information we have gathered (and will continue to gather) during the Discovery process.


During the Discovery process, we will gather all relevant documents for your case, such as medical documents, school records, security videos, documents and reports from the police station, and from any external investigations that were conducted as a result of the action. We will also compile a list of witnesses we may call to support our theory of the case, and we will contact any expert witnesses such as doctors who discuss the incident or damages resulting from the incident.

During Discovery, we send lists of questions, called “interrogatories,” to the defendant(s) and any relevant. These folks will write responses to the questions and they will also sit for depositions, where we have the opportunity to ask them questions in-person. You and your witnesses will also receive a list of questions to respond to, and will also be subject to depositions. We will work with you to answer any and all interrogatories, and we will prepare you for any and all depositions.

You have the right to be present during depositions of witnesses we will bring. The defendant(s) in the case also have the right to be present at any depositions we conduct.

We may also hire an expert witness to write a report or testify if there are complicated medical or forensic issues that need to be explained by someone with specialized knowledge, such as a doctor or an engineer.  The expert may question you or others directly affected in the case.


At all stages of the case, there is a possibility that the case may settle and the city or town in question may elect to pay a sum of money to you and to us. If settlement is reached, then the case does not go to trial. Defendants sometimes prefer to settle rather than spend the time, money, and effort it takes to prepare for and conduct a trial. 

Shiller Preyar will always discuss with you any big changes in the case, such as a settlement offer. Every client has different goals when filing a lawsuit against the police; we promise to give you our honest opinion about whether or not the settlement is a sound option, or if we think you will be better served going through the trial process.


A civil rights trial occurs in front of a judge and a jury who listen to arguments from both the prosecution and the defense. We will state your claim in the case, using any and all audio and visual evidence as well as witness statements to support your side of the story. We will hear the defendants’ side of the story, and we will have the opportunity to question and refute the evidence they bring to the case.

If the case proceeds to trial, the attorneys at Shiller Preyar Law Offices will meet with you and your witnesses multiple times to prepare you for the trial environment, the kinds of questions you may receive, and to describe our strategy going into the trail.

A trial may take between two days and two weeks. Our attorneys will be with you every step of the way.


If you have been the subject of police misconduct, do not hesitate to call us at 312-266-4590 or email us as legalservices@shillerlaw.com.  


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Teléfono: 312-226-4590
Teléfono: 877-45-WE-WIN
Fax: 773-346-1221

Shiller*Preyar Law Office
601 S California Ave,
Chicago, IL 60612