Learn How To Sue A Prison

A prison is a place that sees the safety and well-being of people placed under someone’s charge. A prison has a responsibility to both keep the area safe for use and to protect any personal information they process. If they do not sufficiently carry out this responsibility, and this leads to a person suffering harm or an injury, the harmed individual might be entitled to sue the prison for compensation. 

how to sue a prison
A guide on how to sue a prison

This guide will show you how to sue a prison; it will inform you of your rights, whether as a guard, a prisoner or a visitor, and your options if any of your rights were breached. It will talk about data breach claims and personal injury claims, while explaining the difference between the two. Potential compensation will also be discussed along with how to formally begin a claim.  

If you want to speak to someone directly about your situation, you can reach out to one of our advisers now. They offer free legal advice and could even potentially value your claim. 

Our advisers can be reached via: 

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Choose A Section 

  1. How To Sue A Prison For Personal Injury 
  2. Examples Of Accidents In A Prison 
  3. How To Sue A Prison For A Data Breach 
  4. How Much Could I Get If I Sue Either A Prisoner Or A Guard? 
  5. What Criteria Is There For A No Win No Fee Agreement? 
  6. Learn More About How To Sue A Prison 

How To Sue A Prison For Personal Injury 

Anyone physically using a prison has protections under health and safety legislation. 

For a guard, or an employee contracted by the prison, workplace health and safety legislation such as Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASAWA) are in effect. They make it an employer’s responsibility to take every measure they reasonably can to remove or reduce risks to an employee’s health and to provide a practically safe working environment. 

This refers to risks present in both 

  • Their area of work 
  • The activities they are asking employees to perform 

Suffering an injury, because a governor or director did not do enough to manage or address risks, can be grounds for a claim for compensation. 

The expectation of a safe environment extends to prisoners and visitors of all kinds to a prison. Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, a prison is expected to look for any possible risks to a visitor’s safety and address them. A prisoner suffering an injury because of an unsafe prison might be eligible to sue the governor and make a claim for compensation. However, this would only be if the prison’s negligence caused the injury. There is some expectation of risk when visiting or working in a prison. 

If you want more information about whether you could sue a prison over what happened to you, you should reach out to one of our advisers. 

Examples Of Accidents In A Prison 

Actions to look for and remove risks to an environment can help prevent accidents and injuries. For example: 

  • Risk Assessments: Performing risk assessments can help promote a more alert attitude towards risks in an environment and help avoid accidents. A risk assessment could identify a broken or loose step in a prison and help prevent a slipping injury. 
  • Performing Maintenance: Performing regular checks and maintenance over an area and equipment can help prevent accidents. A maintenance check could, for example, highlight and fix a broken fire door which would be a major hazard in the event of a fire 
  • Providing Health & Safety Facilities/First Aid Equipment: Adequate first aid or health facilities could make a massive difference in the event of an injury. Well trained staff or a well-stocked kit could help manage the condition of a person who has suffered a penetrative wound in a prison. 
  • Controlling Exposure To Substances: Limiting what harmful substances can be used within a prison can help avoid injuries entirely. Avoiding the use of substances with known health risks, for example, can reduce the chances of exposure. 

These and similar actions to both think of risks present in a prison environment and work to manage or remove them, is what is expected of a prison. 


If you have suffered an injury, due to negligence of the prison, gather evidence of the circumstances that led to your injury to use in a personal injury claim. 

This can be evidence in the form of: 

  • Witness contact details: Collect the contact details of witnesses who can provide statements for your claim.  
  • CCTV (Or similar recordings): Footage or photographs showing what led to your injury exist can act as evidence.
  • Documents: Work documents that show the prison was not carrying out required health and safety procedures (e.g. they did not provide sufficient training in dealing with prisoners). 

Evidence of your injury can also play an important part. If you have not already done so, seek out a medical assessment for any injury you suffered. This can help you know more about your condition and medical records from your examinations can be evidence. However, an independent medical assessment might be requested to provide a report for both sides to use in a claim. 

For more information about evidence when looking to sue a prison, get in touch with one of our advisers now. 

How To Sue A Prison For A Data Breach 

Data processing is the broad term used to define the storing, management, use or examination of data. 

Prisons have to process personal information in a lot of situations: when employing staff, when taking in or managing prisoners or even when letting visitors onto the premises. 

There are strict rules and regulations mandating how they should manage or use the personal data they store. Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018, the person in charge of storing and managing data would be recognised as a data controller or data processor and they would be in charge of both securing the data and making sure its use is strictly in line with privacy and data protection laws. 

A data breach is any incident that compromises the integrity and security of the personal data. A breach could occur if (for example): 

  • Someone hacks into the prison system to access the personal data 
  • Personal data is shared with someone unauthorised to use the data 
  • Personal data is accidentally lost or deleted. 

The nature of information held in prisons means a data breach can have serious consequences. A breach could reveal:

  • The crimes of a prisoner, endangering their lives 
  • Personal information about a prison guard, including their address 
  • Visitor information including names and relations

Securing the integrity of the information is important and if a prison data breach led to you suffering harm in any way, you could be eligible to sue the prison and make a claim for compensation. Contact our advisers now to see if you can begin your claim. 

How Much Could I Get If I Sue Either A Prisoner Or A Guard? 

If you suffered financial losses because of a physical or mental injury and were making a claim for compensation in a personal injury claim, you would seek out special damages. Any financial losses tied directly to the injury can be claimed back in special damages 

In data breach claims, material damages serve a similar purpose. Though, unlike special damages, material damages for financial losses can be claimed as their own type of compensation.  In personal injury claims, special damages can only be awarded if they are awarded alongside general damages. 

General damages is the amount awarded for the sustained injury and any pain and suffering it brought. For an estimate, you can use the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG), a publication used by solicitors and judges when valuing claims. Below is a table highlighting some award brackets listed in the JCG, but the amount in your claim will likely differ depending on your situation.

Minor Brain or Head InjuryMinimal if any brain damage£2,210 to £12,770
Severe Neck Injuries: (ii)Damaged discs in the cervical spine resulting in disabilitiesIn the region of £148,330
Moderate Neck Injuries: (i)Fractures or dislocations that limit function of the neck£24,990 to £38,490
Severe Back Injuries: (i)Severe spinal cord damage£91,090 to £160,980
Moderate Back Injuries: (ii)Backache from disturbed ligaments and muscles£12,510 to £27,760
Serious Shoulder InjuryDislocated shoulder affecting movement£12,770 to £19,200
Moderate Shoulder InjuryFrozen shoulder with limited movement£7,890 to £12,770
Hernia: (b)Direct inguinal hernia that might reoccur after repair£7,010 to £9,110
Severe Leg Injuries: (ii)Injuries resulting in permanent mobility problems£54,830 to £87,890
Severe Leg Injuries: (iv)Complicated fractures that could leave the leg vulnerable to future complications£27,760 to £39,200

In a data breach claim, you could seek non-material damage for any psychological harm suffered. The ruling in the Court of Appeal case, Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc 2015, means non-material damages can now be awarded as its own type of compensation without having suffered financial effects from the breach. 

What Criteria Is There For A No Win No Fee Agreement? 

A No Win No Fee solicitor can represent you in a personal injury or data breach claim. A No Win No Fee agreement is simply an arrangement where your solicitor would agree not to charge you an upfront solicitor fee nor ongoing solicitor fees as they handled your claim.

Payment would only be taken on the condition that your claim was successful and you were awarded compensation. In that case, the payment would be a success fee, a previously agreed-on small percentage of the compensation awarded.

If the claim was not successful, you would not have to pay your solicitor their fee at all. 

Our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors could represent you in your claim. You can reach out to our advisers now if you want to discuss making a claim with us. 

Speak To Us About How To Sue A Prison

Our advisers can offer you more information on how to sue a prison and answer any more questions you might have. They offer free initial consultations and can offer legal advice. You can reach them now via: 

  • The number at the top of the page    
  • Our contact page    
  • The live chat feature 

Learn More About How To Sue A Prison 

For any additional information you might need: 

As a prisoner, you can make complaints to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman 

The government website offers statistics on safety in prisons 

The government website also offers information on your privileges and rights as a prisoner 

You can learn more about personal injury claims from our guides:

Thank you for reading our guide on how to sue a prison. Please contact our advisers for any more information.

Article by CHA

Edited by VIC