In the state of California, dog owners have strict liability for most dog-bite incidents. Strict liability in this sense means that the injured party does not have to prove the dog owner was negligent or that there was intentional harm. It is not a defense to a dog-bite case in California that the dog owner did not know that their dog had vicious tendencies.
If you have been bitten by a dog in California, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who is familiar with dog bite cases and strict liability. California attorney Johann Hall has successfully handled many dog bite cases. Call attorney Johann Hall today to set up a free consultation to discuss your potential dog bite case.
Requirements for Dog Bite Strict Liability in California
Under California law, for strict liability to apply and make the owner of a dog who injured someone strictly liable, the following two facts must exist. First, the dog must have actually bitten the injured person. Second, the person who was bitten must have been either in a public location or must have lawfully been in a private place when the bite occurred.
A person is considered lawfully on private property if they were invited to be there or if they were in the process of carrying out a legal duty while on the property (such as delivering mail). Strict liability does not apply when the injured person was bitten by a police dog in the course of law enforcement work.
Injuries Caused by Dogs That Don’t Involve Bites
In the event that someone is injured by a dog in some other way than being bitten by one, the strict liability law does not apply. However, this does not mean that the injured party cannot get compensation for their injuries. For example, if a dog injures a person by scratching them or chasing them, resulting in a fall with a resulting injury, the injured party may be able to recover damages if they can prove that the dog owner was negligent. A dog owner must use reasonable care to control their dog (such as keeping the dog on a leash or maintaining a fence) so if the injured person can prove that they were negligent in that way, they may be entitled to compensation.
Dangerous Dogs According to California Law
In addition to California’s strict liability dog bite statute, California law also requires dog owners to take reasonable steps necessary to remove the danger of any future attacks if their dog has bitten someone before. If a person is bitten by a dog who has bitten others before, with at least two or more separate biting events, that individual has the option to bring a case against the owner of the dog to determine if it qualifies as a dangerous dog. The court will determine whether the conditions of the treatment of the dog and other circumstances existing at the time of the previous dog bites have been changed so as to remove the potential danger to other persons that the animal presents.
Additionally, a person bitten by a trained attack dog who has previously inflicted serious injury on someone may also bring a claim for damages, even if only one other person had been injured before. The court may order the dog owner to make efforts to prevent future attacks, including removal of the dog from the area or destruction of the dog.
Controlling Dangerous Dogs
California also has legal proceedings for the control of dangerous dogs. If animal control or a law enforcement officer chooses, they may file a petition for a hearing regarding a suspected threatening dog. If successful, the hearing may result in a requirement that the owner has to keep the dog inside, keep the dog on a leash, or keep the dog in a fenced-in area. Failure to follow these conditions can result in a fine for the dog owner.
Legal Defenses to Dog Bite Cases
If you are the victim in a dog bite case, you should be aware that there are certain defenses the dog owner may raise when you bring your case. The owner of the dog may claim that you were trespassing at the time of the injury or that you were partially at fault for the incident. If they are able to demonstrate that either of these defenses are true under the facts of your case, it may affect your potential for compensation. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to hire an attorney to evaluate your dog bite case and pursue compensation on your behalf. Call attorney Johann Hall today to get started on your California dog bite case.