Taser and Stun Gun Lawsuit

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 Can I Sue for Being Tased?

In short, it depends. Stun guns and taser guns are both electrical weapons that are often utilized by law enforcement officers with the intention of employing non-deadly force to effectively stop a threat. Both devices are typically employed in order to detain a person who is resisting arrest or stop an individual who is in the commission of a criminal offense.

Although the design of tasers and stun guns is for non-deadly force, both devices are commonly misused by law enforcement and often result in injuries or even death to the person they are utilized on. As such, an individual who was shocked by tasers while in police custody may be eligible to sue to recover for their injuries through an excessive force or deadly force lawsuit against the officer that harmed them and any other responsible parties.

Depending on the nature of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff (i.e., the party that was allegedly harmed by the use of the taser or stun gun), many different parties may be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Parties that may be sued by a plaintiff harmed by a taser or stun gun may include:

  • The individual officer that deployed the device;
  • Any superior officer that authorized the use of the device or ordered another to deploy the device;
  • The police department;
  • The county or state;
    • In some cases, the designer, manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of the taser or stun gun may also be held responsible if the device is defective.
    • It is important to note that tasers and stun guns are to be designed and manufactured without defects, as well as include proper warning labels. Failure to do so may result in the manufacturer being liable for resulting injuries.

As can be seen, victims of excessive force related to taser and stun guns may sue the individual police officers involved in their case. They can also sue the supervisor of those officers involved and the government that has employed and is responsible for regulating them. In misconduct claims, it is most common for the individual police officers themselves to be sued. Generally, this is because governmental immunity plays a large role when suing the offending municipality.

Governmental immunity involves legal policies that protect the government and governmental agencies from being sued in most cases. These legal protections are meant to make it easier for governments to make decisions due to being free from interference from civil lawsuits made by the general public that they serve.

Because of how difficult the governmental immunity doctrine makes suing a municipality, suing a police officer supervisor is generally only feasible if they were directly involved with the incident in question. For instance, if the supervisor was on scene and ordered another officer to employ their taser or stun gun, then they may be held liable for the misuse of the device. However, in general, courts will not find a supervisor vicariously liable or responsible for the actions of another person, such as a person they hired.

In an excessive force lawsuit, the victim must prove that the amount of force used against them was absolutely unnecessary and that the police officer could have come to the same result without as much force as was used. For example, an individual may have already been detained or cuffed, and then the taser or stun gun was used on them. In that case, they may have a successful claim for excessive force.

In recent years, plaintiffs have become more successful in demonstrating excessive force by requesting copies of police body cams that have become mandatory for police to wear in many jurisdictions. There have been many stun gun and taser lawsuits where a plaintiff was complying with police demands and still had an electrical device employed on them. In those cases, with the assistance of the police body cam evidence and other witness recordings or testimony, the plaintiff is able to overcome the burden of proof and win their lawsuit.

If a plaintiff’s excessive force or police misconduct claim is successful, the court will typically award the following damages:

  • Civil Rights Damages: These damages are remedies for the violation of an individual’s civil rights, as violated by the police officer(s) in question;
  • Actual Damages: These are a plaintiff’s quantifiable damages, such as their lost wages and hospital and medical expenses related to the use of the taser or stun gun;
  • Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are damages that may be awarded in addition to a plaintiff’s actual damages and are intended to punish the defendant(s).

What Are the Effects of Stun Guns and Tasers?

As mentioned above, tasers and stun guns are not designed to use deadly force. However, the improper use of stun guns and tasers can result in severe injuries and, in some cases, death. In fact, the number of civil lawsuits filed by individuals harmed by law enforcement agencies for stun guns and tasers has been on the rise due to the injuries suffered by individuals who have had the devices utilized on them.

The general effect of stun guns and tasers is to confuse the body’s nervous system by injecting an electrical current of energy into an individual’s nervous system. This electrical shock then results in energy loss, difficulty moving, and disorientation. Although stun guns require applying the device directly against the person, tasers are different. Tasers do not have to be applied directly against the individual, but rather, they may be deployed and shot from a general distance of 15 to 25 feet.

What Evidence Is There That Tasers Are Dangerous?

There is not a lot of evidence that directly links Tasers to deaths, but this is mostly the result of minimal research being conducted on tasers. However, there have been a few cases and investigations that have concluded that the use of tasers was the primary cause of death for an individual.

In many other cases, tasers have also been found to have at least contributed to death. For instance, when employed on individuals with preexisting conditions, the use of the taser was a significant contributing factor to their death. For example, persons with heart issues may be at an increased risk for death when a taser is employed against them.

Additionally, many doctors who have performed research on tasers admit that they believe tasers shouldn’t cause life-threatening injuries as they aren’t designed to employ deadly force. However, they can’t definitively rule out that they cannot result in the death of the person whom they are being used against.

The lack of research on the dangerous effects of tasers is due in large part to Taser International Inc. The manufacturing company made claims about the safety of tasers on reports they didn’t actually have.

However, since these false reports have been discovered, Taser International has conducted better research, but not much independent research has been performed on tasers. There is strong pressure for more research on the effects of tasers. However, police departments throughout the nation continue to use Tasers as a means of subduing individuals with non-deadly force.

I’ve Been Injured by a Taser, Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been injured as a result of a stun gun or taser being used on you, then you may be able to recover for the injuries you received based on a products liability claim against the manufacturer. Once again, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to make sure that tasers and stun guns are designed and manufactured without defects.

They are also responsible for ensuring proper warning labels for the use of their products. An experienced defective products lawyer can advise you on whether or not you have a valid civil lawsuit against the manufacturer or responsible party.

However, if you believe that you have been victimized by the police and think the police’s actions will be beyond the protection of governmental immunity, then you should speak with an experienced criminal attorney immediately. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to help you determine whether you would have a successful lawsuit against the party responsible for your injuries. They can also represent you in court, as needed.

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