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“Hot” Topic: Pepper Spray and its Effects

Residents of Las Vegas and Clark County are concerned about becoming victims of crime. Some choose to buy and/or carry guns, but many people are hesitant to turn to firearms for protection. Others opt for what they feel is a reasonable compromise: pepper spray.

Pepper spray is the layman’s term for Oleoresin Capsicum spray, which is designed to thwart a would-be attacker without the use of deadly force. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical extract that comes from chili plants and similar flora. This inflammatory chemical causes pain, tears, and even temporary blindness. Some reports say that pepper spray can render a human blind for 15 to 30 minutes, induce coughing for between 3 and 15 minutes, and irritate the skin for up to an hour.

The idea behind pepper spray is to allow a potential victim the chance to flee from the attacker and/or seek help. But like all other weapons, pepper spray can be dangerous when used in inappropriate situations. Unfortunately, there are those who do not treat pepper spray with the respect it deserves simply because it is not considered to be a lethal weapon (although there are cases where individuals with asthma or other respiratory problems have died after ingesting pepper spray).

As a result, there have been instances of people getting sprayed with pepper spray and subsequently sustaining injuries. When pepper spray is employed other than for its intended use of self-preservation, the person who sprayed it can be held liable for any resulting injuries. If the substance is sprayed into a crowd, it is common for several people to get hurt.

If you have been sprayed with pepper spray without provocation and were injured as a result, you may consider contacting a personal injury lawyer who can help you seek proper compensation in civil court.