There seems to have been a spate of wrongful death actions lately filed in relation to the use of tasers by the police.
While tasers may have their place in law enforcement, there is a burning question about the number of deaths resulting from the use of this weapon on suspects. Just recently a man involved in a traffic stop, who bolted when he saw police, died as a result of the use of a taser to disable him to arrest him. The autopsy reports are expected to show that the taser played a part in his demise.
This is just one more death in a long laundry list of them that hit the media over the use of tasers instead of talking to arrest suspects. Has the company that makes tasers been taken to court in a wrongful death action? Indeed it has and in most cases, it was not found liable. However, that all changed one day in September 2008, when Taser International was deemed partially liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Interestingly enough, until September 2008, Taser International had won 45 wrongful death or injury cases. In that landmark court case, it lost a $6 million wrongful death suit. The door swung open that day on the issue of their liability in the future for taser deaths.
Granted the court’s findings in that case apportioned liability to the deceased plaintiff and the company as being 85% to 15%, but the decision had an even greater ripple effect. It saw Taser International stocks plummet.
The facts are that if the company is found liable for damages done after tasing a suspect, they could lose their shirts. It doesn’t matter if the suspect may have had heart damage, the fact remains that if police are chasing a criminal, they aren’t going to stop and ask if the person has a heart condition.
Families faced with the death of a loved one due to the possible questionable use of a taser need to consult with a highly skilled wrongful death attorney to determine their path to justice for that death. It’s not just the police force that may wind up being cited as defendants in such a case.
Often the maker of the product that caused the serious injury or death is joined in this kind of a lawsuit. Keep in mind that wrongful death suits are “not” criminal cases and do not go through the criminal courts. A wrongful death case is conducted in civil court and the standards of proof are different. This makes it essential to discuss the case in detail with an expert wrongful death attorney.
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