Police forces across the UK regularly utilise the skills of highly-trained police dogs to assist with their law enforcement duties.
Because dogs possess talents that humans simply don’t have, they can use be used to successfully locate illegal substances such as drugs, firearms or explosives. Their speed also makes them ideal for pursuing and detaining criminals who may otherwise escape if the task was left to an officer on foot.
Although these canine experts help to make the police’s job easier, they can be capable of inflicting serious and undue harm because of the way they are taught to bite and hold.
At Hudgell Solicitors, we recognise that police dog bite compensation claims need to be handled sensitively – and with a full understanding about the circumstances which led to the injuries that were inflicted.
When making a claim against the police, it is also vital that the solicitor dealing with the case is properly prepared and has a sound understanding of the complex laws involved. Because we deal with police dog bite claims on a frequent basis, our specialists can quickly recognise if an injury was unnecessary or avoidable.
In order to prove that your wounds were caused as a result of negligence, we will investigate whether the police should have done something to prevent the dog bite. This could involve looking at the dog’s training records to uncover whether there is evidence of any similar scenarios or previous incidents – to determine if another similar one was foreseeable or likely to happen.
The behaviour of the handler is also important. If they failed to shout a warning before releasing the dog or it was released at the wrong time, the handling officer could be found guilty of negligence.
Have you suffered as a result of a police dog bite? If the answer’s yes, get in touch with one of our experts and we’ll help to establish whether ‘reasonable force’ was used or not, as this is always a key factor in any prosecution.
Why can I claim police dog bite compensation?
Anyone who has sustained an injury as the result of a police dog bite needs to understand their legal rights before pursuing a compensation claim.
As with all dog bite claims, there are two main allegations that you can make:
- An alleged breach of the 1971 Animals Act
- Allege the police force or dog-handler has been negligent in some way
To bring a successful case under the Animals Act, you must be able to show that the injury was caused by a characteristic of the dog which was known about by the defendant.
Improper training or handling of a police dog can also be cause to launch a claim for compensation, especially if the canine inflicted serious or life-threatening wounds on a nonviolent suspect. In cases like this, the person responsible for the dog’s training regime may be accountable for any undue harm which has been inflicted by the animal they supervise.
If a police dog wasn’t up to date on its injections, its supervisors could face additional liability charges if a bitten suspect becomes ill from disease or infection.
There are some instances where you can claim for assault or trespass to the person, but only if you can prove the police have intended to cause harm, acted without care or conducted themselves in a way which they knew was unjustified – regardless of whether they caused harm or not.
If a person has been bitten because they failed to stop when commanded to do so, they are deemed to have “voluntarily accepted the risk of damage” and a case cannot be brought under the Animals Act.
The police would also have no case to answer if the dog was defending itself from behaviour which was annoying, harassing, or provoking it into a response.
What injuries can result in compensation for a police dog bite?
Because the animals in a dog section are trained to be highly dangerous, police dog bites can exceed 1,500 psi (pounds per square inch) – which is almost three times the force of a civilian dog that bites with a force of around 200 to 400 psi.
This bite-and-hold technique, which aims to subdue and restrict individuals, can result in a wide spectrum of injuries including:
- Bone injuries – such as fractures
- Injuries which need to undergo surgeries or skin graft
- Large tissue avulsions
- Large tissue lacerations
- Neurovascular damage
- Permanent facial disfigurement
- Seep puncture wounds
- Severe crush injuries
- Shredded muscles
- Wounds needing surgery
- Wounds that are at high risk of infection
If you have suffered any injuries as the result of a police dog bite, please get in touch and discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident with one of our solicitors.
If the injuries were caused as a result of negligence, you may be eligible to make a police dog bite claim.
What is the time limit for filing a claim?
Timescales to make claims vary dependent upon the type of case. Victims have six years to make a claim for unlawful arrest, three years for assault, and one year for breaches of Human Rights. However, there are circumstances in civil liberties cases where time limits can be extended, so we’d advise calling a member of our team as soon as possible.