New SC law limits liability for police dogs

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A new South Carolina law provides police K-9 units some protection in court.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin says the strict liability statute for dog bites previously meant criminal suspects could almost certainly collect a settlement if a police dog bit them, regardless of the situation. That's because the law made exceptions only if the person bitten was trespassing on private property or had directly harassed the dog into attacking.

But Martin's measure, signed into law last month, added an exception for certified police dogs that are on duty and responding to a lawful command or otherwise acting according to training.

Whether a K-9 acts appropriately becomes a jury question.

Laws in 14 states and the District of Columbia already provided liability exceptions for injuries caused military or police dogs.

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