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When The Dog Bites: What To do When A K-9 Unit Attacks You

On July 19th, 2015, an Orlando police dog named Doki hopped over the fence of his backyard and chased after seven-year-old Julianne Goodridge. The dog bit into the girl’s throat, and left claw marks and bite marks all up and down her shoulders, back, and buttocks. Since then, Julianne has had several surgeries to cover up the scars, and continues to attend therapy sessions for the traumatic stress the attack caused her. Meanwhile, Doki has been retired from the Orlando police force, but has found a new position in the Netherlands.

Julianne’s family is suing the city for damages, an amount that includes Julianne’s medical bills.

Not only do dog bites cause serious physical harm, but also, the victim of dog attacks tend to suffer from emotional duress and post-traumatic stress. Because of the severe consequences a dog attack can have on the victim’s life, Florida is a strict liability state—meaning that a dog’s owner is responsible for any bites or attacks in both public and private settings, and that they are liable to cover any damages caused by the attack.

However, Florida is also a comparative negligence state, meaning that the liability will be reduced in proportion to any negligence committed by the victim.

Florida’s laws on dog bites and attacks typically only apply to private dogs – not public service dogs. When a police dog attacks a victim or suspect, the laws regarding dog bites become a little murkier, as there are more factors to take into consideration. If you have been bitten or attacked by a K-9 unit, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The lawyers at our Florida personal injury law firm will be able to help you determine whether or not your sustained injuries are cause for a lawsuit against the city, and if they are, how to go about achieving the best possible outcome.

Suing For Injuries From A Police Dog When You Are A Suspect

As the suspect in a crime, your relationship with the police force is going to be a bit different than Julianne Goodridge’s. Whereas Julianne’s family has clear grounds on which to sue the city, suspects have to prove that the police used unreasonable force when making their arrest, and that the police did not give them reasonable amount of time to surrender.

If you can prove that either a) the police used unreasonable force in your arrest or b) they did not allow you to surrender before being attacked, you have grounds on which to sue the city. Should you win, the police force may be required to pay you punitive damages. They may also be responsible for your lawyer fees and costs.

When A K-9 Unit Bites Someone Other Than A Suspect

Though Julianne Goodridge’s case was a rare one, police dogs have been known to bite and/or attack non-suspects. When this occurs, the police – the dog’s owners – are subject to a civil liability lawsuit. Furthermore, the laws that govern private dog owners in the event of a dog bite then become applicable to the police.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Win Your Case

When suing the police force for an attack by a K-9 unit – whether or not you are a suspect or unsuspecting victim – you should seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. Though the members of a police force are just as liable for their actions as private citizens, suing an officer of the law is often more difficult to do, simply because they are regarded more highly by the overall general public than private citizens are. The personal injury lawyers at the Pendas Law Firm in Florida can guide you through your lawsuit and help you achieve the best possible outcome. If you have been bitten or attacked by a police dog, contact our law offices at 1-888-LPENDAS, or online today. Our firm serves clients throughout Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale & Miami.

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