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How Much is a Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit Worth in San Francisco?

By May 28, 2024No Comments3 min read

A wrongful arrest lawsuit can be worth millions of dollars or, in some cases, nothing at all. Various factors determine the potential payout, and understanding these can help you estimate the value of your lawsuit. At Golden Gate Legal, we help clients navigate these complex cases to maximize their settlements.

Factors Influencing Settlement Amounts

  1. Hours in Jail
    • The length of time you are wrongfully incarcerated for significantly impacts your compensation. A conservative estimate is around $1,000 per hour, which can increase with aggravating factors such as medical complications.
  2. Number of Court Appearances
    • Each court appearance can add to your stress and financial burden, leading to higher compensation. Prolonged malicious prosecution often results in more significant payouts due to the extended hardship.
  3. Injury by Police
    • If excessive force was used, resulting in physical injuries, your compensation should reflect the severity of those injuries. Cases involving severe injury or wrongful death lead to higher settlements.
  4. Police Deception
    • The level of deception by police, such as planting evidence, can increase the payout. More malevolent actions by law enforcement lead to higher compensation.

Types of Damages

  1. Compensatory Damages
    • These are intended to compensate you for the losses you suffered as a result of being falsely arrested. They can include things like lost wages, medical expenses, and damage to your reputation. For example, if you were severely injured during the arrest, you may be able to recover additional damages for your pain and suffering.
  2. Punitive Damages
    • In some cases, you may also be able to recover punitive damages. These help punish the person or entity that wrongfully arrested you and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. Punitive damages are not for every case, as they require a showing of intentional or reckless misconduct. If you can prove that the police officers who arrested you acted with malice or bad faith, you’ll have a high chance of recovering punitive damages.

Settlement vs. Trial

  • Settlements: Generally, settlements are lower than trial verdicts as the plaintiff and defendant negotiate a mutually acceptable compromise without going to trial. 
  • Trial Verdicts: Jury verdicts can be higher than settlements if you have a strong and clear lawsuit.

Attorney Fees and Costs

  • Contingency Attorney’s Fees: Many civil rights attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing out of pocket until you win the case.
  • Litigation Costs: Litigation costs are different from attorney’s fees. These include witness fees, court expenses, and other associated costs, which can add up quickly.

Typical Payout Ranges

  • $1,000,000+ Payouts: Rare, involving decades of wrongful imprisonment or wrongful death.
  • $200,000+ Payouts: Infrequent, often involving permanent injury or extreme police corruption.
  • $100,000+ Payouts: Common in cases with serious physical injury.
  • $25,000+ Payouts: Often involve excessive force, even without severe injury.


Those are the factors that influence the value of a wrongful arrest lawsuit. At Golden Gate Legal, we provide expert legal support to help you navigate your case and maximize your compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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