California Dog Bite Laws

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Pius Joseph with Law Offices of Pius Joseph.

California Dog Bite Laws
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Dog bites are among the most common types of animal attack and can be deeply traumatic, both physically and mentally. Whenever you find yourself around an animal you are not familiar with, it is important to exercise caution. If you have suffered a dog bite, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages including medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.

Depending on your state, the laws regarding dog bites may vary. In most states, the dog’s owner is considered liable for any injuries the dog causes. Some states have a “one bite rule” under which the injured party must be able to prove that the dog’s owner did something wrong to allow the bite to happen. However, this rule does not often apply in California dog bite cases. To learn more about California dog bite laws, reach out to a California dog bite attorney.

California imposes strict liability for most dog bites cases.

Strict liability regarding dog bites differs from the one-bite rule in that it is not necessary to prove that the owner failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent the dog bite. Under strict liability law, even if the dog’s owner did everything in their power to prevent the dog bite, they are still considered liable if the bite occurred in public or any other place where the victim had a right to be; this is a broad category of dog bites and applies in most cases.

There are some exceptions to California’s strict liability regarding dog bites, in which cases the one bite rule may apply.

In cases where the dog bite occurred in places where the victim did not have a right to be, the one bite rule may be applied, usurping the strict liability approach to a dog bite lawsuit. For example, if the victim was a trespasser on the dog owner’s property when the bite occurred, or if the victim was partially responsible for the attack to some degree, the dog’s owner may be able to argue that they are not solely liable for the bite. Other exceptions to the rule may include cases in which the dog’s owner is not being sued, or if the dog was a law enforcement animal working in the line of duty.

If you have suffered a dog bite in California or elsewhere, it’s a good idea to take the following steps:

  • Seek medical care right away. Immediately after any kind of animal attack, it is recommended to wash the wound with warm water and soap, use a towel to stop the bleeding, and wrap the wound before going to let a doctor examine it. In addition to making sure you receive the necessary medical treatment for the bite, this also ensures that an official record exists documenting the injury.
  • Collect contact information. It’s important to record the contact information of the dog’s owner immediately after a bite. This information should include the person’s name, phone number, email address, and any other contact information which could help an attorney reach them later.
  • Collect evidence. If evidence exists that could prove how the dog bite occurred, take measures to preserve it. For example, if there is a broken fence, leash, chain, or missing signage warning of an aggressive animal on the premises, take a picture or video and store it in a safe place where it cannot be lost or deleted. Additionally, if there were any witnesses to the attack, obtain their contact information and record a testimony with their permission.
  • Contact animal control. If you have suffered a dog bite injury and suspect the dog is likely to bite again, it’s important to contact animal control and let them know about the incident. It may be necessary for animal control to intervene and prevent further attacks.
  • Contact a dog bite attorney. Medical care after a dog bite can be expensive, not to mention the psychological injuries that may occur due to the trauma of an animal attack. Reach out to a dog bite attorney in your state to discuss your situation and discover your eligibility for filing a claim. Most of these attorneys offer free consultations and will be able to give you a better idea of how to move forward after a dog bite.
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