The purpose of personal injury and liability laws are to ensure citizens the right to a safe environment. Sometimes wrongs are committed that escape criminal law, yet cause damage that demands compensation. In a car accident, for example, that can mean payment for repair and medical bills. In most cases, personal injury includes pain and mental anguish in addition to physical suffering.
In a 2015 New Jersey case, police misheard the address of a break-in. An officer entered the wrong property and was surprised by the owner's German Shepherd. He fired in self-defense, killing the dog. The officer was cleared of wrongdoing by his department, but the situation leaves Igor Vukobratovic without a beloved pet. The officer acted in defense, but he was only on the property by accident.
Determining cause of injury
Today the dog's owner is in court with the Wyckoff Police Department because he feels the mishap never should have happened. The officer misheard the dispatch and repeated the incorrect address back. He then proceeded to the wrong home, where the incident happened.
A previous investigation cleared the officer, but that investigation reviewed police procedure, not victims' rights. In civil court, the dog owner claims that his pet was unjustly killed, which has caused him pain and suffering.
In this instance, the lawsuit is over the police training and procedure, essentially claiming negligent professional behavior caused the death. Had the officer been corrected on the address, or followed other warnings, it alleges that Vukobratovic's dog would be alive today.
When injury happens outside of normal circumstances, due to the actions of another, the victim has a right to seek damages. Saying "tough luck" doesn't cut it. The law is there to protect personal rights and property even if no criminal behavior took place.