California Police K9 Unit and Dog Bite and Dog Attack Laws
Law enforcement officials are allowed to use specially trained dogs to assist them in their police work. Police dogs are trained to act on command to track, knock down, and corner suspects. Police dogs are not trained to severely maul or kill people, or grab them by the face or throat, however, they may be trained to bite in such a manner as to subdue a suspect.
Can I sue for being attacked and bitten by a police dog?
California Civil Code section 3342 provides significant immunity against law enforcement liability for injuries inflicted by dogs used in military and police work, however, they are some situations where you may be able to sue for an unprovoked attack.
Whether or not you can sue for dog bites or other severe injuries sustained in a police dog attack depends entirely on the circumstances and severity of the attack. Police dogs are not allowed to attack people who are not involved in the act of committing a crime or who are not suspects of an unlawful act. In these situations, you probably cannot sue for a police dog attack. However, law enforcement officials do not have immunity against liability lawsuits in situations where an unprovoked attack by a police dog involves an innocent bystander or on someone who is not a suspect.
California Civil Code section 3342 - Military and Police Dog Attacks
California Civil Code section 3342 provides as follows:
3342. (a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
(b) Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (a) against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following:
(1) In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect's involvement in criminal activity.
(2) In the investigation of a crime or possible crime.
(3) In the execution of a warrant.
(4) In the defense of a peace officer or another person.
(c) Subdivision (b) shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite or bites was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act or acts that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work.
(d) Subdivision (b) shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subdivision (b).
About Police Brutality and the Use of Excessive Force
- Can I sue for emotional stress damages for excessive force used during an arrest?
- I was beaten by a police officer. Can I sue for damages for pain and suffering?
- How much money can I get for damages for pain and suffering/emotional distress?
- California Civil Rights Law Practice Information
- What is excessive force? What is police brutality?