A Queensland woman tasered in the eye by police may be entitled to compensation if she proves the officer’s use of the stun gun was unnecessary.
A Queensland woman shot in the eye with a police Taser gun may be entitled to compensation running into the tens of thousands of dollars.
But personal injury lawyers say she will have to prove the officer’s use of the Taser was unnecessary.
The 34-year-old woman has undergone eye surgery to remove the metal Taser prong from her eye after the incident at her home on Thursday.
The woman’s family say she has lost the use of her eye, although police and the hospital where the woman is being treated wouldn’t confirm this.
But a hospital spokeswoman said the woman is in a stable condition.
If the woman partially or completely loses sight in her eye she may be entitled to between $47,000 and $57,000 in general damages, Shine Lawyers special counsel Chris Gillott says.
Compensation for medical costs, physical and psychological harm, wage losses and superannuation losses may also be payable.
“But the simple fact she’s had an injury doesn’t mean she will succeed,” Mr Gillott said.
“She will have to prove that what the police officer did wasn’t appropriate.”
Maurice and Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson said if the woman proved the officer unnecessarily deployed the stun gun then the Queensland police service and the state government could be liable.
Police say the woman was tasered after she threatened officers with a table leg that had nails sticking out of it at her home at Logan, south of Brisbane.
The woman’s sister said she became upset during a visit from social workers, prompting an ambulance and police to arrive.
“She was screaming in total agony,” the sister, who was not named, told ABC Radio.
“The Taser was in her eye and she was in so much pain she said to the police officer ‘the Taser’s in my eye, the Taser’s in my eye’ screaming all the while.”
The officer who deployed the weapon is a very experienced senior constable and a qualified Taser instructor.
He’s now the subject of an Ethical Standards Command investigation.
Police service guidelines on Taser use specifically warn of the risk of eye injuries.
“Tasers should not be aimed so as to strike the head or neck of a subject unless this is unavoidable,” the guidelines say.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the service would take lessons away from the incident.
“It’s a very sad matter, one that we will learn from, and we will take all action that’s necessary,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
Police say they are weighing possible charges against the woman.