Dog Bites

Dog bites are a common cause of dog-related injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 368,245 people in the U.S. received treatment for dog bites in 2001. Dog bites can create serious injuries that require long-term treatment, cause pain and suffering, and create substantial medical costs. California dog bite attorneys that specialize in dog bite cases can help victims recover a monetary award for their injuries.

Dog Bite Liability Based on Statute

Statutory law governs the liability for dog bites that occur in California. California statutory law uses the doctrine of strict liability — or liability without fault — to govern the legal responsibility of dog owners for dog bites. In states governed by common law, it is necessary to show that the dog owner knew or had reason to know that the dog was vicious or a danger to people and that the dog was likely to bite someone.

Under California statute, a dog owner is nearly always responsible for injuries caused by their dog. According to California Civil Code § 3342(a), it is unnecessary for a person bitten by a dog to prove the dog owner’s fault, regardless of whether the dog owner knew the dog was vicious or that the dog had bitten someone before. Even if a dog owner attempts to keep the dog from causing injury or has no knowledge that the dog is dangerous, the owner will not escape liability. A Los Angeles dog bite attorney can help an injured person prove the elements required under California’s statute:

  1. The defendant owned the dog;
  2. The dog bit the plaintiff in a public place or while lawfully on private property; and
  3. The dog bite caused injuries to the plaintiff.

This section is not applicable when the military and police use dogs for work and when a dog bites a trespasser.

Dog Bite Liability Based on Negligence

California statute only imposes liability for dog bites on dog owners. With assistance from a California dog bite attorney, an injured person may seek recovery from others under the theory of negligence. Every person owes a duty of care to others to act as a reasonably, prudent person would act in the same or similar circumstances. A court may determine a person is negligent when they are unreasonably careless in maintaining control over a dog. For example, a violation of a leash law may offer sufficient proof to establish negligence.

Liability for Dog Bites

A person injured by a dog bite may seek recovery for the following:

  • Medical bills, including costs for physical therapy, emergency room visits, medication, and surgery
  • Loss of earnings

August 8, 2014