Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Police Can Charge You With Murder for Fighting Off a Dog Attack But Can You Sue Them For Killing Yours?

In a not so often discussed dog attack scenario, is when a police dog is used to enable an over zealous law enforcement officer to abuse or exceed the amount of force or harm necessary to subdue a crime suspect. One this people seem to forget, is if an individual fends off a dog attack and it results in the death of the dog, the person defending himself can be charged with murder. So in this case at bar, we have a victim who risks being charged with murder if the victim attempts a defense. This is the law.

 California Law On Fighting Off Police Dogs (Source Here.)

Penal Code 600

(a) Any person who willfully and maliciously and with no legal justification strikes beats, kicks, cuts, stabs, shoots with a firearm, administers any poison or other harmful or stupefying substance to, or throws, hurls, or projects at, or places any rock, object, or other substance which is used in a manner as to be capable of producing injury and likely to produce injury, on or in the path of, any horse being used by, or any dog under the supervision of, any peace officer in the discharge or attempted discharge of his or her duties, is guilty of a public offense. If the injury inflicted is a serious injury, as defined in subdivision (c), the person shall be punished by impreisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two or three years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2000.00), or by both a fine and imprisonment. If the injury inflicted is not a serious injury, the person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand $(1000.00), or by both a fine and imprisonment.

(b) Any person who wilfully and maliciously and with no legal justification interferes with or obstructs any horse or dog being used by any peace officer in the discharge or attempted discharge of his or her duties by frightening, teasing, agitating, harassing, or hindering the horse or dog shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand ($1000.00), or by both a fine and imprisonment.

(c) Any person who, in violation of this section, and with intent to inflict such injury or death, personally causes the death, destruction, or serious physical injury including bone fracture, loss or impairment of function of any bodily member, wounds requiring extensive suturing, or serious crippling, of any horse or dog, shall, upon conviction of a felony under this section, in addition and consecutive to the punishment prescribed for the felony, be punished by an additional term of imprisonment in the state prison for one year.

(d) Any person who, in violation of this section, and with the intent to inflict such injury, personally causes great bodily injury, as defined in Section 12022.7, to any person not an accomplice, shall upon conviction of a felony under this section, in addition and consecutive to the punishment prescribed for the felony, be punished by an additional term of imprisonment in the state prison for two years unless the conduct described in this subdivision is an element of any other offense of which the person is convicted or receives an enhancement under Section 12002.7.

(e) In any case in which a defendant is convicted of a violation of this section, the defendant shall be ordered to make restitution to the agency owning the animal and employing the peace officer for any veterinary bills, replacement costs of the animal if it is disabled or killed, and the salary of the peace officer for the period of time his or her services are lost to the agency.

Leg.H. 1984 ch. 443. effective July 12, 1984, 1985 chs. 106, 765.

1984 Note: the Legislature inserted a cross-reference to Penal Code Section 12002.7 in subdivision (d) by Stats. 1984 ch. 443. However, the cross-reference is to a section that does not exist.

In the case at bar, the city of Hayward, California is settling a lawsuit for $225,000 of a police dog attack and this will mark the third settlement in under a year for the city. The lawsuit stems from a worker at a kennel being bitten by the police dog in 2011 at the Breton’s School for Dogs and Cats in Danville. According to court records the attack occurred when police officer Vince Celes attempted to put a collar and leash on Nero the police dog, when the dog broke loose and went after one of the employees, Jose Rojas.

 Rojas attempted to go up a fence to get away from the dog, but it bit one leg and then latched on to the other, according to Hayward City Attorney Michael Lawson. The kennel worker was hospitalized after the attack for complications from an infection. According to Lawson, Nero the police canine has been retired and the city of Hayward is no longer using the kennel for the police department dogs. Lawson said that Rojas has returned to work at the kennel after recovering.

The Hayward City Council on January 21st approved a settlement for $225,000 at the meeting. June 18th the City Council approved a $1.5 million dollar settlement in a police dog attack that occurred when police were searching for a robbery suspect in 2011. Officer Loring Cox lifted a police canine, Nicky into the Hayward yard of 89 year-old Jesse Porter, while searching for the robbery suspect at an area restaurant. Porter was bitten on the calf and a few days later developed gangrene, which resulted in his leg being amputated above the knee. According to San Francisco attorney Matthew Davis, who represented the family Porter died approximately two months later in a rehabilitation center. The third lawsuit occurred approximately 11 months earlier and involved the police dog Nicky, during a traffic stop.

Officer Cox let Nicky loose when the traffic stop began escalating and the officers felt threatened, according to Assistant City Attorney Joseph Brick. The traffic stop involved Lawrence Sterling, who was bit on the ankle by the police canine. Officers transported Sterling to St. Rose Hospital for treatment of the dog bite. The city settled with Cox for $25,500, which according to Lawson was less expensive than taking the lawsuit to trial. Nicky the police canine was retired.

In any event, the dog was still a police dog.  This means the worker risked being tried for murder if a defense was attempted. The only real way to stop a rabid dog is to kill it.  In California, the owner of the dog is strictly liable for any harm a dog does.  But it has been argued for years by criminal defense attorneys that police sick their dogs on people they don't like, with the hopes that the victim will harm or kill the dog, and pick up another charge!

So at Ehline Law we think the law should be repealed. After all, an ordinary person cannot even sue for the death of their dog for pain and suffering in California courts (See source), yet the police can charge you with a crime like battery. What do you think? Sound off.

More News Citations: 
http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_25030519/hayward-paying-225-000-settle-police-dog-attack

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dog Breeds Often Involved in Attacks

It is true that any breed of dog can bite and especially if the owner has not trained the canine properly or controls it around other people. The dog can be large or small, but be vicious around other people besides their owners; age does not make a difference either, so being young or old will not stop a canine from biting. Any of these animals have the ability to attack, injuring a child or adult in the process and one of the canines whose breed is often the subject of terror for people is the Pit Bull, which is a terrier breed.

This dog breed is responsible for a larger percentage of serious canine attacks that result in lengthy hospital stays and in some situations death. This is a canine which has a muscular body and extremely strong jaws and they are often subjected to abuse by their owners in order to make them vicious.

When Pit Bulls Attack

When Pit Bull canines attack the injuries can be severe and in some cases deadly, which has led to some municipalities either limiting or banning this type of pet ownership to reduce the amount of incidences that occur within their county or district. There are other municipalities that have attempted to establish this type of ban or limitation of ownership of this breed of canines has not been successful in other cities.

Study Data

The Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs, has complied data to show dog bite attacks in specific areas, like Denver, Colorado where during 2007 the most common breeds of dogs involved in attacks or that bit humans was surprising with:
  • Labrador Retrievers were responsible for 13.3 percent of dog bites.
  • Pit Bulls came in at 8.4 percent. 
  • German Shepherds at 7.8 percent. 
  • Rottweilers at 3.9 percent 
  • Chow canines at 3.5 percent.

Breed and Appearance

Labradors being the leading canines in dog bite attacks is surprising, since these types of dogs are generally believed to be mild natured, good family pets and good with children. One of the main problems is that canines can become aggressive as a consequence of their training and the owner of the canine can be held responsible for the dog’s actions. This is a reason why it should never be assumed that any breed of canine is safe, friendly and does not ever attack, even if they are usually a good natured friendly breed. Even appearance when the animal looks like it is friendly is not a guarantee that it will not bite.

In many states, including California it is not necessary for the plaintiff to show that the canine has a prior history of attacks. Though, the defendant may use the fact that the dog has never been vicious and has never bitten before. If the owner of the canine has knowledge of a history of aggressive actions by the dog and fails to control the animal it may be considered aggregating circumstances, which can result in the dog bite attack victim recovering punitive damages.

Legal Assistance

The top Los Angeles, Southern California dog bite injury attorneys at Ehline law, have experience, litigation skills and resources to represent dog bite attack victims in cases involving aggressive canine breeds. Often one of the documents they will obtain during their investigation is the animals veterinary records that may show aggressive behavior, which can be used in negotiating with the owners insurance company or in civil court. In cases that involve larger canines, such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds it takes an accomplished legal professional to ensure the plaintiff recovers the future medial compensation that may be necessary for ongoing medical treatment, surgeries or therapy. 

The goal is to make certain the client is able to heal without the financial stress that an injury of this kind can cause with medical expenses, loss of wages and other damages. Expert litigators can assist the family that has lost a loved one in a dog bite attack to hold the canine owner responsible for the animal’s actions.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dog Bite Prevention Week


This last week was National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which is sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. This comes on the heels of a recently released study that names California the number one state for dog bites. This is not surprising to Ehline Law dog bite attorneysthough it is upsetting to know harm of this type is what rated their state as number one. The other states that are included in the top ten and follow California are Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Florida and Georgia. 
This study shows the millions of dollars paid out in insurance claims for canine bites or attacks that occurred during the year of 2012. 
During 2012 the number of dog bites reported was 451 and insurance claims costing $17.1 million in insurance payouts. The state of Illinois coming in second had approximately $9 million dollars less in insurance claims and over 100 less canine bites reported with 337 during the year of 2012. 
The reported national average during 2012 for reported victims bitten by dogs was approximately $4.5 million insurance claim payouts. They are also responsible for five percent of hospital emergency room visits nationwide. In the United States there are an estimated 70 million canines nationwide. 
Figures from the U.S. Post Office during 2012 were 5,879 mail carriers that were bitten by dogs and the postal service is quick to state that children are more often the victims of this kind of harm, even over the number of mail carriers sustaining harm. Reportedly this is the most common kind of injury that children suffer as a public health issue in the U.S. The U.S. Post Office is sponsoring National Dog Bite Prevention Week in order to bring attention to this problem and educate people how to behave in a situation that could result in a canine biting. 
Dogs are loyal, wonderful and intelligent animals, Dr. Douglas G. Aspros president of the American Veterinary Medical Association said. He said that dogs rely on their owners to be responsible and teach them how to act around people, but when an owner is irresponsible and the dog bites, the owner should be held negligently responsible. This is even more important when the canine is dangerous or has aggressive tendencies and has an owner not doing the proper training; they need to be held responsible. 
Dr. Aspros stated how important it is to have an understanding of canine behavior and the way people should act when they are around them, which could reduce the amount of serious physical and emotional harm that occurs when dogs bite. There are some tips that have been provided by the U.S. Post Office involving dogs and while some may have been heard before they can never be heard often enough. These tips include not approaching strange dogs and use caution interacting with dogs you do not know. If you believe that a dog may bite or attack, it is suggested to avoid screaming or running from the animal and stand still with your arms at your sides. Do not directly look the dog in the eye, this may be seen as challenging the animal, instead avoid direct eye contact until the canine loses interest and walks away. In the event that the canine does attack, put your jacket or any other item between you and the animal, which may cause them to take that to attack. This will give the individual time to back away, but do not run, since this would bring immediate and unwanted attention from the dog. If the individual is on the ground or ends up on the ground, then it is suggested to be essential to remain motionless and curl up in a fetal position. 
Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyers
When a dog bite happens to you or a family member, legal assistance is necessary and the seasoned dog bite lawyers at Ehline Law Firm, PC can evaluate your claim, provide the understanding of legal paths that can be taken in holding the irresponsible and negligent dog owner accountable for the canine’s actions. Contact our offices at Ehline Law Firm, PC as soon as possible at 888-400-9721 or by using our online evaluation form at the website for a free consultation to discuss your case. 
Other Sources: 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Elderly Amputee Dies After Dog Attack




I am still doing the research on SC dog bite law. But in California, when a dog attacks, the owner and controller of the dog is strictly liable for the attack. Some states have a one bite rule. So let's see how this pans out. The facts are as follows: A South Carolina 80 year-old double amputee has died from injuries suffered during an attack by four dogs that drug the elderly man from his wheelchair, according to authorities.

Major John Garrison spokesman for the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Department said that on May 8th Carlton Freeman of Harleyville was riding in his motorized wheelchair when he was attacked by the canines. Garrison said an incident report states that Freeman said he was drug from his wheelchair during the attack. The attack occurred in a location approximately 50 miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina. Freeman said in the report the dogs were biting him and pulling on his clothes. Freeman died on Sunday from the injuries sustained during the dog attack.

Tuesday Coroner Chris Nesbit stated the elderly man had both legs amputated at the knee from an injury that happened years before. The coroner said in a statement that Freeman had bites and lacerations over his entire body and he said he was surprised the elderly man lived as long as he did. He said it was sad, but was even worse because Freeman was “basically helpless during the attack, since he was a bi-lateral amputee.”

According to Maj. Garrison officers were able to capture three of the four dogs, which were taken to the animal shelter. He said officers are still trying to locate the fourth dog involved in the attack. Three of the four dogs were owned by a woman that lived in the neighborhood, according to a police report that also stated blood was found on the dogs.

Police have not made any arrests in the dog attack and death of Mr. Freeman. Authorities said this is the second fatal dog mauling in the county in a little over 12 months, with the first attack in 2012 involving a 2 year-old child that was pulled from a baby swing by the family dog, while the baby’s father was asleep. The child was killed and dismembered in the attack.  

Resources: http://www.kctv5.com/story/22258080/sc-amputee-80-dies-after-being-attacked-by-dogs

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

People Injured in Two Dog Attack While Walking

July 17, 2012 - According to reports several people were injured when attacked by two dogs, while walking in Whittier. According to authorities the dog bite attack occurred at approximately 3:00 p.m. in the 76000 block of Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier, Monday.

Police said three pedestrians were attacked by the two dogs, with one being an 11 year old by that had serious injuries to his arm and a woman was bitten on the buttocks. According to Los Angeles Animal Control Officer Mireya Martinez, both of the dogs were captured and were transported to Downy Animal Care facility, where they are being housed.

Animal Control Officer Martinez said that the dogs do not appear to have been socialized and the owner most likely kept them in the backyard as watchdogs. He said this can cause animals to become aggressive.

The owner was sited with fines for code violations and the owner could face civil lawsuits by the victims. Martinez said that the fate of the dogs has not been determined and both dogs will be tested for rabies. He said animal control officers are investigating if there have been other complains of attack by the dogs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Victims Of Dog Bite Attacks Can Recover Damages

Statistically speaking, a dog attack is far more likely to involve a person that you know, than a stranger. Although we are personal injury lawyers in different cities, over on Google+ Jonathan Rosenfeld and myself were recently discussing the inherent hesitancy associated with pursuing dog bite claims the dog owner and dog bite victim are friends. In most jurisdictions, as long as the dog is owned by someone outside of the victims household, the victim can assert a claim against the owner under their homeowners insurance policy.

Being a victim of a dog attack can be a frightening and painful experience. To make the situation worse, most dog attacks occur at home, usually meaning the dog owner is someone you know. Regardless of whether the dog belongs to stranger or even a relative, there are often large costs involved that need to be taken care of.

Damage Considerations In Dog Mauling Cases


A victim of a dog attack will need to look at several areas when pursuing reimbursement for the damages caused by the attack. This can seem harsh when it is a friend or relative but if their dog is at fault, they should be the ones to pay for the damages. Many dog bites are covered under home insurance policies, but if not, victims may need to pursue a civil suit. Some damages that victims may need to recover are:

  • Medical expenses. In 2008, the average hospital stay for a dog bite victim was $18,200. This is no little matter and the dog’s owner is responsible for these expenses if they are found at fault. It is not just the initial visit that needs to be taken into consideration but also follow-up visits and therapy that are required as well. This may include medical care for worsening an existing medical condition.

  • Loss of income. If the victim is unable to work due to the injuries, they may be able to recover lost wages. This also applies to future income losses if the injuries will prevent the person from returning to work in the same capacity.

  • Pain and suffering. Although real, pain and suffering are intangible and are ultimately up to either a jury or insurance company to decide what is fair compensation. A generic way to calculate pain and suffering is to multiple the medical damages by up to four times. Considerations will be made for the age of the victim, how the attack occurred and what hardships the victim had to endure after the attack.

  • Disfigurement. The victim of a dog bite attack can recover monetary damages for resulting scars

  • Other damages. If the dog has bitten someone before, sometimes the victim will receive what are termed multiple damages due to the dog’s previous issues. Also, dog owners may be subject to punitive damages if their behavior in controlling their dog is deemed reckless.


How To Proceed With A Dog Bite Claim?


If you are the victim of a dog attack, in most cases the first course of action is to contact the dog owner and ask them to cover the damages, either themselves or through their insurance company. Most homeowners, renters and car insurance policies cover dog attacks, however not all do and not all breeds. Some insurance policies may not cover what they consider to be “aggressive” breeds such as pit bulls or may not cover a dog that has bitten before.

If the damage is large or if the owner is unwilling to pay up, getting a lawyer on your side is probably the best move. They will be able to negotiate on your behalf with the owners and insurance companies. Most likely you can settle without having to go to court, but if it comes down to facing a jury, your lawyer will know the best way to proceed.

No one wins in a case of a dog attack. Regardless of damages recovered, the pain and trauma of going through the ordeal are rarely worth it. Dog owners need to do everything in their power to prevent dog attacks from occurring and all people should use precaution when around dogs that are not theirs. However, if an attack does happen, victims have rights and need to be compensated for their losses.

Jonathan Rosenfeld is a Chicago personal injury lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. Jonathan's office is the sponsor of Chicago Dog Bite Injury Lawyers www.chicagodogbiteinjurylawyers.com which is good resource for dog bite victims anywhere.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers
33 North Dearborn Street, #1930
Chicago, IL 60602
(888) 424-5757
www.rosenfeldinjurylawyers.com
Resources for dog bite claims:

http://www.dogsbite.org/pdf/2008-ed-visits-inpatient-stays-dog-bites.pdf

http://doglaw.hugpug.com/doglaw_085.html

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mom and Son Attacked by Three Dogs---Police Killed the Animals

June 8, 2012 - According to reports in the news and at the Newport police, a mother and son were attacked by three dogs in Newport Beach. According to the Newport Beach Police Department officers responded to a report of a dog attack at approximately 5:30 a.m. at the Marriot Newport Coast Villas on East Coast Highway, in Newport Beach.

Newport Beach police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe, said that the woman was a guest at the hotel and was walking toward her car when she was attacked by the dogs, from behind. The woman’s son ran toward the dogs to help his mother and was bitten in the attack, suffering puncture wounds, Lowe said. Lowe said the dogs were described as pit bulls and after the initial attack left the woman and her son alone. Newport Beach Police officials said that the officer arriving on the scene was forced back into his car, and the three dogs aggressively attacked the police car. Officers canvassed the area in search of the pack of dogs, with the help of Animal Control, who intended to restrain the dogs.

Newport Beach Police officials said the officers and Animal Control were unable to capture the pit bulls and due to their aggressive behavior the officers obtained authorization to fire at the dogs. Newport Beach Police officials said the officers were concerned, since this is an area frequented by joggers, bicyclists, golfers and other people.

The woman and her son were transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police officials said. Lowe, said that there were no officers injured in the dog bite attack and that there have been no earlier reports of the dogs roaming the area. Police are attempting to locate the owners of the dogs. Source: 5000 Birch Street Newport Beach, CA 92660 (949) 891-0278 www.ehlinelaw.com

California Dog Bite News

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Dog on a Leash

Dog on a Leash
Even while on a leash a dog can attack