While police dogs in Massachusetts play an important role in apprehending criminals, they are animals and as such can present a danger to innocent people. As one recent case shows, should a police dog attack an innocent person, that person may want to pursue a dog bite claim. However, this may be easier said than done.
A Massachusetts Appeals Court has recently ruled that a man bitten by a police dog in 2011 can pursue a lawsuit. The incident began when the dog mistook the victim for another man who was fleeing from officers after a high-speed car chase. The victim was in a park and ride lot when the canine attacked him. The victim suffered a sizeable bite on his leg and the bite punctured his stomach twice. Moreover, he is still suffering mentally from the attack.
The victim had brought a lawsuit against the State Police following the incident, but in 2015 the lower court ruled that the victim’s lawsuit could not move forward, as the State Police had government immunity from lawsuits. The Appeals Court disagreed, and ruled that such immunity was lost when an officer caused the harmful condition, that led the victim to become injured. The case will now move forward in the lower court, in which the State Police have stated they will wage a vigorous defense.
A dog bite can have long-lasting effects on a person, both physically and mentally. Oftentimes a dog bite victim incurs significant medical expenses and pain and suffering, not to mention the need for counseling. For these reasons, it is important that dog bite victims be given the opportunity to seek compensation from the responsible party, even if that party is a member of the government. Those with questions about dog bite laws or government immunity may want to seek the advice of an attorney.
Source: CBS Boston, “Appeals Court Says State Police Dog Bite Victim Can Sue,” David Robichaud, June 2, 2017