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Can You Sue Over a Police Dog Bite Injury?

police dog bite injury southern illinoisBy Daniel Taylor, Esq.

Police dogs, just like human police officers, occasionally get the wrong man. But when the police “officer” detaining you has Vise-Grip jaws and razor-sharp teeth, a mistake can damage more than just your dignity.

Case in point: A South Dakota man who police say was an innocent bystander was mistakenly bitten by a police dog, The Argus Leader reported earlier this week. Cops were able to call the dog off the bystander and onto the actual suspect, who was then captured. But both the suspect and the bystander were sent to the hospital with injuries.

In this case and in others, can a police dog bite victim sue the cops for damages?

When ‘Taking a Bite Out of Crime’ Goes Bad

Unfortunately for victims, suing the police is a bit more complicated than just suing a typical dog owner. As you might imagine, police officers are generally afforded broad powers to carry out their duty to serve and protect the public.  However, it is possible to sue over a police dog bite injury.

Overcoming this immunity can be done by showing unreasonable conduct by the police, such as the use of excessive force, or by alleging negligence in the training of either the police dog or the dog’s handler.

In the South Dakota man’s case, police have admitted a mistake occurred; an internal review is underway.

How to File a Police Dog Bite Claim

Once you’ve determined that you may have a viable claim against the police, there are a few steps you will most likely have to take before you can get your case against the police into court:

  • File a government tort claim. Most governments have enacted laws that contain rules for filing an injury claim against them. The procedures for these claims differ from state to state, but generally you must make the government aware of your injury by filing a standard form, usually known as government tort claim.
  • Wait for the government to respond. The government will have a set amount of time in which to respond to your claim. If they fail to respond, or reject your claim, you can then proceed with a lawsuit.
  • Find an experienced attorney. Even with a rock solid claim, you may need the help of a civil rights attorney who is well-versed in proceeding with claims against government agencies.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Information from



Swimming Pool Safety: Do My Neighbors Need a Fence?

Swimming Pool Safety

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

The Joneses just got a brand new, backyard swimming pool for the summer. And while you’re not worried about keeping up with them, you might be worried about keeping your kids safe.

Accidental drownings in swimming pools occur so frequently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has an entire site dedicated to swimming pool safety. So are the Joneses responsible for putting a fence around their new pool?

Duty to Prevent Harm

Swimming pools can be great fun, but they can also be what are known under the law as an “attractive nuisance.” There’s a reason that theme parks call their rides “attractions” — they get kids’ attention. The problem with an attractive nuisance like a pool is the hidden danger involved.

An attractive nuisance is something that a property owner has a reason to believe will attract children to his or her property and poses some danger to children. If a property owner fails to take reasonable steps to prevent children from being harmed by the nuisance, he or she may be liable for any injuries that occur.

Most courts consider swimming pools to be attractive nuisances, so swimming pool owners should take steps to make sure children aren’t injured in or around their pools.

Safety Steps

The CPSC recommends installing a 4-foot fence around the perimeter of any pool or spa and using self-closing and self-latching gates. Pool and spa owners should own and maintain proper covers, and keep life-saving equipment like reaching poles and life rings near the pool and available at all times. You may also want to check with your homeowner’s association (if applicable) or any municipal or state regulations requiring pool construction to see if a fence is required.

Pool parties will be ubiquitous this summer, but pool party injuries don’t have to be. Knowing the legal risks of pool ownership as well as some basic pool safety and healthy swimming tips can help you out of hot water.

But if an injury does occur at a neighbor’s or a public pool, you may want to consult an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Information from

Where and When Surgical Malpractice Occurs

surgical malpractice

There are three phases of surgery: pre-operative, the surgery itself, and post-operative. At any time during these three phases surgical errors can occur. To minimize these errors, most surgeons adhere to a strict routine. Any deviation from the routine can result in surgical malpractice.

Pre-operative miscommunication

It’s essential for the surgeon to clearly communicate with the patient before surgery. During the pre-operative discussion and evalutation, the surgeon must identify the patient, determine whether the patient will be able to physically withstand the surgery, and answer all of the patient’s questions.

In many cases, the anesthesiologist will also visit with the patient to confirm his or her identity, answer questions about the effects of the anesthesia, and to confirm the patient hasn’t eaten for a period of time before surgery (to assure the patient won’t vomit during surgery). The surgeon should also cover:

  • The nature of the surgery
  • Reasonable alternatives to surgery
  • Possible risks of the surgery and after-effects
  • Benefits the patient can hope to get from the surgery
  • Informed consent
  • During surgery

The most critical part of surgery occurs in the operating room. This is when the patient is most vulnerable, and in most cases, unable to communicate with members of the surgical team. To avoid surgical errors, the surgeon must:

  • Have the training and experience to safely perform the procedure
  • Communicate effectively with members of the team
  • Perform surgery on the correct body part
  • Not leave surgical tools in the patient’s body
  • Post-operative actions and omissions

Post-surgery is a critical time for the patient, and when they are at their weakest. During this time, patients are vulnerable to infections and other complications that can negatively affect their recovery. The surgeon may not be directly responsible for post-surgery complications, but he does have a duty to follow up with the patient, answer any questions, and confirm the patient is safe from unnecessary harm.

During post-surgery, danger often comes from the hospital environment. If a room isn’t properly disinfected and sanitized, or if a patient is exposed to a sick employee, the patient’s health can rapidly decline. The most common infections contracted in hospitals are caused by staph, strep, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and clostridium bacteria.

Common Surgical Mistakes

Wrong site surgery

Wrong site surgery occurs when the surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body. By so doing, healthy organs may be wrongfully removed, or limbs unnecessarily amputated.

Unnecessary surgery

Unnecessary surgery can occur when a patient is misdiagnosed, when the surgeon is incompetent, when the patient is greedy, when the surgeon misrepresents the need for surgery, or when the surgeon convinces the patient he needs more extensive surgery than is medically required.

Damage to internal organs

Damage to internal areas of the body occurs when the surgeon mistakenly punctures or perforates an organ, artery, connective tissue, intestines, or other internal body part.

Instruments left in patient’s body

Surgical instruments such as sponges, retractors, and surgical blades are sometimes left inside the patient’s body. The Center for Disease Control published a study confirming each year an estimated 15,000 patients have a surgical instrument left inside their body post-surgery.

Infections and complications

Surgical instruments not properly sterilized before use can transfer bacteria to the patient during surgery. When operating rooms aren’t frequently disinfected, they can become contaminated with bacteria and infectious diseases. Also, the surgical team must fully “scrub in” before touching the patient or the surgical tools.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Information from Injury Claim Coach 

Medical Malpractice: Your Rights as a Victim of a Medication Mistake

Open bottle of pills spilling onto the counter

If you’ve become the victim of a medication mistake, seek medical help immediately. Your health and well-being are most important. Then go to the ISMP website (Institute for Safe Medication Practices) and click on the “report errors” tab. ISMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing medication mistakes.

The ISMP collects and analyzes reports of medication dispensing errors and the injuries they cause, which are then reported to the manufacturers and dispensing pharmacies. The ISMP also works with government agencies to help identify medication dispensing errors, their causes, and ways to eliminate future errors.

You can also write an email to the ISMP describing the pharmacy mistake. In your email, include information such as your adverse reaction to the medication, whether or not it was a pharmacy error, both the generic and brand names of the medicine, the dosage prescribed and actually dispensed, the way you discovered the mistake, and any recommendations you may have for preventing future mistakes.

If you’ve been injured by a medication error, you also have the right to a civil action against the pharmacy, and possibly the manufacturer.  This is medical malpractice. Even a minor injury like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or other adverse reaction may be actionable. To be entitled to compensation from the pharmacy’s insurance company, you will need to be able to prove several legal elements:

  • The pharmacy had a duty of care not to injure you (that’s normally assumed).
  • The pharmacy breached their duty of care to you (the breach was the medication mistake – also referred to as “negligence”).
  • The pharmacy’s negligence was the direct and immediate cause, to the exclusion of other causes, of your injury.
  • As a result of the pharmacy’s negligence, you were injured (nausea, vomiting, hospitalization, stomach pumping, etc.).
  • Your injury resulted in compensable damages, including hospital bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages (if you couldn’t work because of the injury), and your pain and suffering.

Hold on to the medication bottle, the package it came in, and your receipt for payment. Try and get the name of the pharmacist and pharmacy tech on duty when your medication was dispensed. If your injuries were minor, such as 12 to 24 hours of pain and discomfort, you can probably handle your own claim.

To do so, locate the corporate headquarters for the pharmacy and send them a certified letter describing the mistake and how it injured you. Enclose copies of the medication label, your receipt, and a description of the reaction you had to the wrong medication. Include copies of your medical bills, emergency room medical records, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses.

If you missed work, provide a letter from your employer, on company letterhead, describing the days and time you missed work, and the amount of wages you lost as a result. Tell them you expect to be compensated for the losses the pharmacy caused.

If you’re not satisfied with their response, you can file your case in small claims court, which will likely prompt a settlement. To defend themselves, the pharmacy corporation will have to hire an attorney. Often, it’s more economically practical for them to pay you a small amount than pay for an attorney.

Information from Injury Claim Coach 

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Personal Injury Case Study: Hit and Run Accident

In this example dealing with a hit and run accident, a woman is injured after a driver T-boned her car in an intersection. The driver fled the scene and the woman was unable to get his license plate number. We’ll discuss specifics of the auto accident, liability, injuries, negotiations, and the final case resolution.

The Accident…

Jennifer was driving her vehicle, a brand new compact car on a clear day without any driving obstructions. She came to a 4-way intersection in a residential neighborhood and stopped briefly and legally at the stop sign.

As she proceeded through the intersection, a large, white pick-up truck barreled through the intersection and T-boned her on her passenger side. The impact pushed her car across the street and into a light pole. Both automobiles came to a skidding stop, however the white-pick up truck fled the scene immediately.

Due to the sound of the collision, several residents of the neighborhood came outside to see what had occurred. Someone called 9-1-1 and within minutes an ambulance, fire truck and the police were on the scene.


Jennifer was observing the rules of the road and had come to a complete stop at the intersection. When she lawfully proceeded forward, she was struck by the truck who then fled the scene.

In this hit and run accident, the driver of the truck was liable for:

(1) Failure to yield the right of way;

(2) Failure to come to a complete stop at the intersection; and

(3) FELONY hit and run (raised to a felony because Jennifer was injured).


Jennifer was properly seat belted, however the collision caused her head and body to jerk violently within the vehicle causing whiplash, sciatica and three bulging discs. These injuries led to further complications such as tingling and numbing in the legs, severe migraines, lower back and shoulder pain and an inability to sit at her desk job as a travel agent for extended periods of time.

Jennifer was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where she received x-rays and emergency room treatment. Thereafter, she went to her primary care doctor who sent her for an MRI and referred her to a chiropractor and therapist for additional care.

Jennifer missed several hours of work per week to receive chiropractic care for over 4 months. She also had to purchase an ergonomically correct chair, keyboard and back support in order to sit for periods of up to 2 hours at work.


Unfortunately, the police were not able to track down the driver of the pick-up. Jennifer was stunned in the minutes following the hit and run accident and she was unable to observe much identifying information. All she could tell them was that the truck was white and looked to be an older model. She knew nothing of the driver’s description, the license plate number or any other identifiable characteristics.

Therefore, there was no other insurance company against which to submit a personal injury claim. Jennifer was required to submit her claim to her own insurance policy under her “UIM” or Un-Insured Motorist provision.

This allowed her to use her own insurance to pay for her extensive medical bills ($8,400), her wage loss claim ($1,500) and the purchase of ergonomic items for work ($900). She also had to submit a property damage claim for $19,000 sincer her Kia was totaled.

Because this hit and run accident was also considered a crime, Jennifer submitted a claim to the Victims Compensation Fund in her state. She received the $10,000 maximum allowed and was able to pay for the additional treatment she needed.

Final Settlement…

Jennifer had been a long time customer of her insurance company and was able to settle her UIM claim for $34,000 with little back and forth negotiating. In addition, she received the Victims Compensation money allowed in her state.

Important Points…

If you are hit by an under-insured or uninsured motorist, you can use your OWN insurance company provided you have applied for UIM coverage.

Sometimes submitting a claim to your own insurance company will increase your rates.

If you have been the victim of a crime, many states have Victims Compensation Funds, particularly in California where the constitution has been amended to include many new and enumerated rights for victims.

Information from Injury Claim Coach

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

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