Visitor Question

Is the county liable for a bystander’s head injury from a taser?

Submitted By: Rhonda (Redding, CA)

Two inmates were involved in a fist fight during breakfast, when my son was inadvertently hit by a taser. The officer discharged the taser, but the probes missed and struck my son in the head, about two inches from his right temple area, and in his right abdomen. He had a seizure and officers secured the inmates in their cells.

My son was continuing to convulse and was lying in a puddle of water from a mop bucket. Two officers drug him out by his arms while still convulsing and removed the probes. My son woke up in a cell alone, wet and cold three hours later, not knowing were he was, having received no medical treatment.

He has requested a CT scan but they refused. He now has speech impairment, numbness in face, headaches and panic attacks, among other problems. Is the county or officers liable? He wasn’t even the one involved in the fight, yet this happened to him and there is no recourse? What can be done about this? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Rhonda,

The County and its jailers are immune from lawsuits by inmates. But there is an exception…

If your son can prove the actions of the jailers displayed a “reckless disregard for his safety”, or that their actions in tasing your son and then leaving him in a puddle of water were done with a “wanton disregard for his safety”, then your son may have a legitimate case.

Your son has a right to see a doctor. He has to go through proper channels to do so. If, after seeing a doctor, the doctor determines a CAT Scan is necessary, then your son would be entitled to one.

Unfortunately, even if the taser caused some type of permanent injury to your son, such as permanent speech impairment, numbness, or other serious impairment, the county won’t be liable. This follows the principle of sovereign immunity, and the lack of evidence to support the exceptions to the rule of immunity.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 8, 2015

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