Law enforcement frequently enlists the help of canines. Dogs can aid in the pursuit, identification, and detention of a suspect, the detection of illegal drugs and explosives, the deterrence of crime, and the protection of police officers.
Because of their specialized training, police canines are incredibly dangerous. They are trained how to subdue suspects using the bite-and-hold method, which uses an extreme amount of force that causes a wide range of injuries, such as puncture wounds, crush injuries, fractures and broken bones, and severe tissue and nerve damage.
Typically, these wounds are at a very high risk of becoming infected and many individuals who were attacked by police-trained dogs are partially or permanently disabled.
If you or a loved one have been bitten or attacked by a police dog and have suffered damages, you may have legal recourse. Keep reading to learn more.
Understand When Police Are & Are Not Allowed to Use a Dog
Typically, police officers can have a K9 sniff around your vehicle when stopped, but they may not sniff inside or outside your house without first having a warrant. There are also special laws that make warrantless dog searches at airports legal, but not necessarily in other areas.
Police officers may not order a K9 to attack a suspect that is detained or does not appear to be an immediate threat to an officer, which includes fleeing suspects. However, a police officer may order the dog to attack if a suspect assaults an officer, shoots at an officer, or otherwise directly harms the officer.
Understand When the Use of a Police Dog Constitutes Excessive Force
A K9 is a dangerous weapon and the unjust use of a police dog by an officer may constitute police brutality in certain situations. For example, it may be argued that an officer used excessive force by ordering a dog to attack a seated, detained suspect who was being rude to the officer. Since the suspect was detained and seated, they posed no actual threat to the officer and therefore, the use of force via police dog was unnecessary.
However, because police dogs are so well protected by the law, it may be difficult to establish that the force used against the suspect was unjustified or excessive. It requires a skilled dog bite attorney to navigate around this complicated area of law.
Document Your Injuries
If you or a family member were bitten or otherwise attacked by a police dog, it’s important that you obtain medical assistance as soon as possible and begin documenting your injuries. It’s easy to assume the injuries aren’t severe, often because puncture wounds are deeper than they are wide and the tissue and nerve damage is underneath.
Take photographs of your injuries daily as they heal and write down how you’re feeling and what limitations you have as a result of the bite. Dog bite lawsuits can take years and you may have difficulty recalling this information later on; it’s in your best interests to record it now while it’s still fresh in your mind.
Obtain Copies of the Police Report & Other Evidence
The police will have written a report of the incident, which you have the right to obtain a copy of and should. Bear in mind that it may take several weeks for the police to complete the report.
The report should detail why the police were called, how the dog became involved in the incident, and what happened directly before, during, and after the attack. If the police did not render medical aid to you after you were hurt by the dog, this may also be an important fact to make note of.
Call a Dog Bite Attorney
Generally, dog bite statutes don’t apply to police dogs and criminal liability can be difficult to prove. That said, there may still be a possibility to file a civil case. For example, if you were not the suspect in the incident and were knocked down, attacked, or bitten by the police dog, you may be able to file a claim for damages.
It’s important to reach out to an experienced dog bite lawyer who understands the complexities of these types of cases and how to put forward the most compelling case possible for maximum compensation.
How Salem, MA Dog Bite Lawyers Mazow | McCullough, PC Can Help
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we know how frightening a dog attack can be. Police dog attacks are even more terrifying, since they are specifically trained to know how to take down a person in the fastest, most effective way possible.
Many people who are attacked by a police dog are victims of the overuse of force, but they’re left with few options due to the special legal protections that K9s have. Contact our office today to learn more about whether you may be able to bring a claim forward for compensation after a police dog attack. Dial now at (978) 744-8000 or toll free (855) 693-9084. Our compassionate, caring legal team is available to assist you.