Police departments across the country use Tasers (a type of stun gun) that they claim will stun a suspect without causing injury. Unfortunately in the past year over 20 people who were shocked by Tasers while in police custody have died. According to Taser International Inc., the company that produces Tasers, over 4,500 law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada use Tasers.
How Do Tasers Work?
The idea behind stun guns and Tasers is to confuse the body's nervous system. This is accomplished by dumping electrical energy into the nervous system. This results in energy loss, difficulty moving and disorientation. While stun guns require applying the device to the person, Tasers are different in that they do not have to be applied directly to the body but can be shot from a distance.
What Evidence Is there that Tasers are Dangerous?
There is not a lot of evidence that directly links Tasers to deaths, but this is because little research has been conducted. One investigation found three cases in which Tasers were listed as the cause of death in an autopsy report. In many other cases, Tasers have been found to have at least contributed to death. Also, many doctors who have performed research on Tasers admit that while they believe Tasers shouldn't cause life-threatening injuries, they can't say they aren't strong enough to cause death.
Why Has there Been so Little Research on Tasers?
The lack of research is due in part to Taser International Inc. The company made claims about the safety of Tasers on reports they didn't actually have. Since this was discovered, Taser International has conducted better research, but not much independent research has been performed. While there is strong pressure for more research, police departments throughout the nation continue to use Tasers.
I've Been Injured by a Taser, Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been injured by a Taser or a loved one has been killed by a Taser or other stun gun, you may have a products liability claim against the manufacturer. It is the manufacturer's responsibility to make sure that Tasers and stun guns are designed and manufactured without defects and to ensure proper warning labels for the use of their products. An experienced defective products lawyer can advise you of whether or not you have a claim.