Antonia Flores Hernandez has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. She claims that she spent three months being treated at a hospital and nearly lost her leg after she was apprehended by a K-9 after she left the scene of a motor vehicle accident. In her lawsuit, Hernandez, a Mexican national, claims that use of the K-9 by the sheriff’s office constituted the use of illegal excessive force.
On January 2, 2006, Hernandez was involved in a motor vehicle crash where she was a passenger in one of the cars that were involved. The motor vehicles sustained minor damages and no one was hurt. The driver, however, fled the accident scene. She got scared and also left before police arrived.
The sheriff’s office ordered a K-9 unit and a helicopter to search for Hernandez and the male driver. Deputy Shawn Masters, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, took his K-9, named Bacchus, with him, and together they apprehended Hernandez. The lawsuit says that the officer did not issue warning to let her know that he was about to release the dog.
The dog allegedly bit Hernandez in the leg a number of times and dragged her to the floor. Her injuries included a completely lacerated artery just above the knee. She now walks with a limp, is at risk of getting an infection, and her leg has permanent scars.
Hernandez is suing for damages.
Police officers are legally obligated to ensure that they don’t exercise excessive force when apprehending suspects. Excessive violence by police officers is considered police brutality and can be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit—even if the victim committed a crime.
Also, a dog owner or the person responsible for a dog has to make sure that the dog does not harm others. Failure to do so is grounds for a dog bite claim or lawsuit.
Florida’s Dog Bite Law:
767.04 Dog owner's liability for damages to persons bitten.--The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners' knowledge of such viciousness. However, any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person's negligence contributed to the biting incident. A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner. However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words "Bad Dog." The remedy provided by this section is in addition to and cumulative with any other remedy provided by statute or common law.
Woman sues St. Lucie sheriff over K-9's bite, PalmBeachPost.com, September 14, 2007
Dog Bite Law, Florida
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