Dog Bite Lawyer Serving Riverside & San Bernardino
Dog bite injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises to serious puncture wounds. When some dogs bite, they don’t let go. If a dog attack injured you or killed a loved one, learn your rights to fight back under California law. The personal injury lawyers at DeWitt Algorri + Algorri, PC represent clients in Riverside and San Bernardino who have medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, emotional distress, property damage, and other losses after a dog attack. If this sounds like you, give us a call.
California Dog Bite Laws
In 2016, California took the lead as the state with the highest number of fatal dog attacks in the country. There were six dog-bite related deaths throughout California in 2016 – double the number of second-place states Florida, Texas, and North Carolina with three deaths each. Hundreds of other Californians suffer minor to severe, but not fatal, injuries in dog attacks every year. After sustaining a dog bite injury, you may ask whether the owner of the pet is legally responsible. Here’s a breakdown of the dog bite laws in California:
- Strict liability. California has strict liability dog bite laws in place. This means pet owners are liable for most dog-bite injuries. Victims can sue the owner regardless of whether the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s propensity to attack. The owner cannot use the defense that the dog had never bitten anyone in the past to escape liability.
- Elements of strict liability laws. To sue a dog owner, the victim must show that: a) the dog in question bit him or her, and b) the attack occurred while on public property or lawfully on private property. Persons carrying out legal duties, such as mail carriers, are lawfully on private properties. On-duty police and military dogs are exempt from this statute.
- Exceptions to the rule. There are scenarios in which strict dog bite liability laws will not apply. If the dog bite victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the attack, the courts may not hold the owner liable. The same is true if the victim provoked the attack with annoying or provocative behavior.
- Negligence-based lawsuits. Even if strict liability does not apply, it may be possible to acquire compensation for a dog bite if the victim can prove the dog owner’s negligence. Dog owners must take due care to reasonably prevent attacks, such as abiding by citywide leash laws or putting up barriers to prevent dogs from running at large. Failure to act with reasonable care, resulting in an attack, could constitute negligence.
Dog bites are not the only animal-related harms to which state statutes might apply. If a dog pinches with its teeth, it still qualifies as a “bite,” even if the teeth do not break the skin. Dog-related incidents such as jumping on someone and knocking him/her down may also give grounds for a lawsuit under California Code Section 3342. If the city considers a dog “dangerous,” the owner may have to take steps to prevent future incidents. To learn more about your specific dog bite case, get in touch with us.