As with all dog bite cases if you suffer a dog bite from a police dog there are two potential allegations that you can make. You can allege a breach of the 1971 Animals Act and you can allege that the police have been negligent in some way.
If a claim is made against the police it is especially important that it is prepared properly and that the solicitor dealing with it understands the law involved. With specialist lawyers dealing daily with such cases Slee Blackwell know exactly what to do. For further information or to make a claim contact us today.
Over the last three years almost £800,000 has been paid in compensation to people bitten by police dogs. Greater Manchester Police paid out more then £180,000 with the Met Police next on the list paying out £95,000. West Midlands police were responsible for the highest number of dog bites. The people who had been bitten included suspects, police staff and members of the public
Under the Animals Act it is usually difficult for a dog owner to defend a claim where you can show that the injury caused was (a) Likely and (b) caused by a characteristic of the dog which was (c) known about by the Defendant.
Arguably a police dog which is specifically trained to "chase and detain" qualifies for all three aspects of the test but the fact it is a police dog involved changes things and offers the police a potential defence. For example, they can argue that the person bitten "voluntarily accepted the risk of damage" by failing to stop when commanded to do so. If they can prove this then they have a defence to the Animals Act. In addition there are arguments that training is different from a characteristic as defined in the Act.
Alleging that the police have been negligent means looking at whether or not there is something the police should have done or have failed to do to prevent the dog bite. It also means proving that they should have been aware that such an incident was likely or "foreseeable".
Proving negligence means looking at the training records of the dog and handler and looking for evidence of any previous incidents or similar attacks. If the records show that the dog had difficulty obeying commands that it could be argued that it was likely not just that the police dog would attack and cause injury (which is part and parcel of their role as a police dog) but more importantly it would over react or fail to respond when placed in a "chase and detain" situation.
The dog handler himself may have been negligent by choosing to release the dog at the wrong time or by failing to shout a warning before doing so. The officer owes a duty of care to those who he is going to set the dog on and this is breached if he fails to follow correct procedure and if he releases a dog over which he has little or no control and which could cause a foreseeable injury.
In certain circumstances there may be third option and you may be able to make a claim against the police for assault (trespass to the person). This would be the case if it can be shown the police have acted in a way which they knew to be unjustifiable and intended to cause harm or at least acted without caring whether they caused harm or not. The police could argue that they were only using reasonable force in the prevention of crime or to lawfully arrest a suspect and it is whether or not they used "reasonable force" which will be a key factor.
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