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Hayward, California, settles police dog bite claim

Many people remember hearing about the tragic police dog attack that resulted in the death of an 89-year-old man in Hayward, California, in 2011. The incident took place in May 2011 when a police dog was let loose in a neighborhood of mobile homes to track down a robbery suspect. Instead, the dog mistakenly bit an elderly man who was in his own backyard at the time.

The man suffered dog bites to his leg, and he developed gangrene. As a result, his leg was amputated above the knee and he passed away at a rehabilitation center in the following months.

The dog bite victim's family sued the city in the aftermath of this tragedy, and the city has now agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle the lawsuit, according to a news report.

The lawsuit accused the police of violating the victim's constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure and also of using unnecessary force.

According to the lawsuit, the police dog had a history of biting bystanders before this fatal attack.

In most dog bite cases in California, dog owners are liable for any injuries. There are very few exceptions--one of them being if the victim provoked the dog.

In general, dog bite victims may recover expenses for their medical costs and other damages from the dog owner.

As we see in this case in Hayward, dog bites do have the potential to cause very severe and even fatal injuries. It is imperative for dog owners to keep others safe around their pets. When they fail to do so, they may be both legally and financially responsible.

Source: Contra Costa Times, "Calif. city to pay $1.5M in police dog bite case," July 18, 2013

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