Tasers are considered “less than lethal” weapons, however, they can cause severe personal injuries or wrongful deaths when used. Whether used by law enforcement or a private individual, tasers have a well-established record of risk. Those who use tasers can be held liable when they cause personal injuries or fatalities.
Individuals stunned by tasers can suffer cardiac arrhythmia which can result in a heart attack. Numerous people have also suffered permanent brain injuries when shocked. People with certain medical conditions and those taking prescription or illegal drugs are at elevated risk of injury or death.
Tasers also deliver a significant electrical charge which can ignite combustible materials including clothing. Even at low voltage, the charge is sufficient enough to burn skin and cause damage to internal organs.
The Proliferation of Tasers
Taser use has skyrocketed in the past few decades. This is due to their widespread adoption by law enforcement agencies and their general availability to consumers as a personal protection device.
Nationwide, approximately 1,042 people have died following the use of tasers by law enforcement. Of these, 442 have resulted in wrongful death lawsuits against law enforcement agencies. It is unknown how many people were injured or killed when they were tased by private individuals. Those who use a taser to subdue another individual can be held liable for the injuries or wrongful deaths their use of the taser causes.
Tasers Often Accompanied by Excessive Force
Individuals who are tased often suffer a myriad of injuries not related to the taser itself. These can include severe bruising, broken bones, lacerations, chemical burns from pepper sprays, etc. that occur when law enforcement attempts to subdue the individual. Often, these individuals suffer compound injuries.
In some instances, the combination of the individual’s health status and underlying medical conditions creates a fatal mix that is triggered when the taser is applied. And, while law enforcement argues that the deployment of tasers reduces the use of firearms, studies conducted in Chicago show just the opposite is true. The data shows that firearms use among law enforcement agencies remains roughly the same, but that the use of tasers in minor confrontations has jumped significantly. To date, there are more than 3.6 million recorded uses of tasers by law enforcement agencies in the United States.