Many California residents love their dogs and treat them as members of the family. However, it is important to remember that even the friendliest dogs can act aggressively in certain situations. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year and nearly 20 percent of them require medical attention. Filing a personal injury claim against the owner of the dog that bit you may be the best way to recover compensation for your injuries.
California dog owners may be strictly liable for dog bite injuries
Under California Civil Code Section 3342, dog owners are strictly liable for dog bite injuries caused by their dog if the person was in a public place or legally in a private place (e.g., the dog owner’s residence) when the dog bite occurred. This means that dog owners will be liable for damages if their dog bites another person, even if the owner was unaware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. However, keep in mind that if you were trespassing onto someone else’s property at the time of the incident, you will likely not be able to recover damages.
What about other injuries caused by a dog?
Dogs can injure a person without biting them. For example, a dog may charge at someone walking on the sidewalk and knock them down, causing injury. In such cases, California’s strict liability dog bite statute would not apply. However, a person may still recover damages if you can establish the dog owner acted negligently by:
- Failing to use reasonable care to control or restrain the dog (e.g., failing to put the dog on a leash, failing to secure the property)
- Failing to properly supervise the dog
- Failing to take reasonable steps to avoid an attack/injury, if the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities
A dog bite or attack can cause serious physical injury, emotional trauma, and financial harm to victims and their families. A personal injury lawyer in your area can help you recover damages to cover your medical expenses and other costs related to the incident.