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Who Can Be Held Liable for Police Dog Attacks?

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Dogs Vets

Who Can Be Held Liable for Police Dog Attacks?


When confronted with hazardous circumstances, police officers deploy a variety of weapons, including police dogs, to protect everyone.

However, there are instances when an innocent person gets bitten by a police dog when an officer mistakes the person as a suspect in a crime. 

Although uncommon, police dog assaults can have severe consequences for those who are attacked. Victims may pursue justice and compensation in these situations by taking legal action. As such, victims of police dog attacks must understand, determine, and prove who the liable party is in a police dog bite accident. 

In this article, you will understand your legal rights if a police dog bites you and what to do when involved in such an accident.


Can Police Dogs Legally Bite People?

Police dogs, often known as K9 units, are widely used by law enforcement worldwide. These dogs undergo training to employ force in situations where suspects are deemed to pose risks to police officers and bystanders.

Their duties encompass detaining suspects, tracking individuals, identifying suspects, detecting illegal substances like explosives and narcotics, safeguarding officers, and managing crowds.

On the other hand, the police dog should NOT attack a bystander if they are NOT a threat to the officers and other bystanders and they have NOT committed a felony.


Can I Receive Compensation for a Police Dog Bite?

You may claim compensation for a police dog bite if you justify that the law enforcement agency or handler was negligent when managing the case or training the dog. 

For instance, you were standing on the sidewalk when a suspect ran past you. Unfortunately, the police officer mistakes you for the suspect and orders the dog to attack you. In such a case, the officer is liable for the injury sustained from the dog bite.

Remember that when filing a claim to receive compensation, you must justify that you were not a threat and that excessive force wasn’t necessary at the time of the accident. 


Who Can Be Held Liable for a Police Dog Bite Injury?

Multiple individuals may be held accountable for a police dog bite injury, depending on the facts of the incident:

Law Enforcement Officers and Agencies 

In the United States, according to the Department of Justice Policy On Use Of Force 1-16.000, a police officer has the authority to use force when necessary to defend themselves or others in dangerous situations, such as when:

  • The suspect is perceived as a threat to the safety of the officers.
  • The suspect poses an immediate danger to others.
  • The suspect has committed a felony.

Conversely, officers are prohibited from using deadly or excessive force in specific scenarios, such as when the suspect is attempting to flee, they surrender after being warned verbally about the potential use of deadly force, and others.

So, if the handler in charge of supervising the police dog at the time of the occurrence acted carelessly or used excessive force, they could face legal consequences. 

Aside from this, those in charge of managing police dog training programs or permitting their usage in specific scenarios may be held guilty if they fail to offer proper training or standards.


The Entity Who Hired the Police Officer

Governmental organizations, including city or county police departments, may be held responsible for police dogs under certain circumstances.

For example, if a police officer employed by the local government uses excessive force against you due to a lack of awareness of the restrictions, the local government can be liable for the incident because it neglected to provide sufficient training for the police dog.

Moreover, law enforcement authorities may hire private companies or individuals to provide police dog services. If the private contractor’s negligence caused the damage, they may be held accountable.


Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for a Police Dog Bite Accident?

Hiring a lawyer for a police dog bite accident can be beneficial in ensuring your legal rights are protected, and you receive the compensation you deserve. Legal issues may also arise, hindering you from getting a settlement.

For instance, you committed a minor violation in California and cooperated with the authorities. Yet, the officers allowed the police dog to bite you. The law enforcement officers attempted to coerce you into admitting fault for the police dog bite incident using their authority.

In such a case, it is crucial to seek immediate assistance from a California personal injury lawyer who can provide the necessary support to help you protect your rights and defend your case effectively.

A lawyer with experience managing dog bite cases can help you understand the legal procedure, obtain evidence to support your claim, negotiate with the liable parties or their insurance companies, and, if necessary, represent you in court.

A lawyer can also provide vital assistance and support throughout the legal proceedings, allowing you to understand your alternatives and make educated decisions about your case.


Fact Check

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