Individuals are generally housed at a County Jail while they wait for their trial or when they are waiting to be sent to a Department of Correction facility after being sentenced.
While at the County Jail, Indiana law dictates the County Sheriff is the one charged with a duty to administer the jail in a manner which preserves the safety of the inmates. Indeed, the Sheriff must exercise reasonable care to preserve the life, health, and safety of those in custody.
Frequently, the County Sheriff will delegate duties to jail employees to run the jail, and sometimes the County Sheriff will delegate the responsibility for providing medical attention to inmates to a doctor or an outside health care provider. However, even when duties are delegated, the Sheriff is responsible for the acts of jail employees, if the employees, acting in the course and scope of their employment, commit negligence. Similarly, the Sheriff is responsible for the acts of heath care providers. Therefore, when an inmate at a County Jail commits suicide; is sexually assaulted by a jail employee; or is deprived reasonable medical care; the Sheriff, in an official capacity, may be liable for damages.
Any individual who desires to make a claim against a County Sheriff, in their official capacity, must file what is known as a Notice of Tort Claim. This Notice must be filed within 180 days after the loss or event and must contain specific required information or the claim will be barred. Consequently, it is important that individuals who have suffered an injury or event at a County Jail, as a result of the actions of a jail employee or medical care provider, consult with an experienced attorney.