Dog Bite Laws in California

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The one term you want to keep in mind when thinking about dog bite laws in California is this: strict liability. That means if you own a dog, and that dog has not ever been known to bite anybody, if by chance your dog gets into such an accident, by law you can’t simply say that you had no idea your pet would commit such an act. Regardless of the situation or event, you’re still liable for damages.

What Else You Need to Know About Dog Bite Laws in California

For one, there is a statute of limitations. As a victim, you’ll want to keep this in mind as you can only file a suit within two years of the incident. Once you’re past two year deadline, you will not be allowed to seek justice within the civil litigation system.

The California dog bite statute actually states specifically that in order for you to file a personal injury lawsuit, the damages must have been caused specifically by the dog bite. Additionally, the bite must have occurred in a public place, or a private place legally or with permission. This means that if such an event occurred on someone else’s property, and you technically didn’t have any permission to be there, a personal injury lawsuit wouldn’t hold up in court if the dog on that property ended up biting you.

It’s more important to know that the statute specifically covers specifics involving police and military canines as an exception to the rule, however. Plus the statute is very specific about the damages actually being ‘caused’ by a dog bite. For instance: say a child was walking on the sidewalk, and a dog jumped on him or her. The resultant accident may have caused a scratch or two, but no bite occurred. The child may have been injured, but it may not be enough to constitute a dog bite lawsuit against the owner of the dog.

Can You File a Lawsuit if You’ve Been Bitten By a Dog?

It’s crucial, though, to keep in mind that you can still file a personal injury lawsuit for such an event, just not as a dog bite claim. California’s negligence rules may apply in such a case, as the dog owner might’ve failed to secure his or her pet successfully, or provide proper training.

There are defenses, though, to a dog bite lawsuit in California—the obvious one is trespassing. A defendant may only have to prove that the injured was unlawfully present in a private place (in this particular case, the dog owner’s property). And, of course, on the subject of law enforcement, the obvious defense is that the canine was carrying out duties as typical in the field. Additionally, if the defendant can prove that the injured somehow provoked the dog, that would stand as a potentially strong defense against a dog bite claim.

Consult an Attorney To Learn More about Handling a Dog Bite Injury

Whether you’re the dog owner or a victim, consult an attorney. Get the information you need. Be prepared, and know your rights.

Written on behalf of Alex Tofer by AskTheLawyers.com™

Author: Alex Tofer

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