An Overview Of Dog Bite Laws In The State Of California
California has a ‘strict liability statute’. This provides a victim a lower standard of proof. Civil code section 3342 discusses the liabilities of a dog owner. Unlike other states, in California, the owner of the dog is automatically on the hook for injuries caused by their dog. In other states, dog owners can use the ‘first bite’ or “one bite” defense., which means the dog must have harmed someone prior to provide notice to the dog owner of his dogs vicious propensity. However, the second victim of this same dog can now claim rights to damages. In California, we do not have the ‘first bite’ or “one bite” defense. Dog bite victims can initiate and pursue a dog bite injury claim even if it is the dog’s first offense. Civil code section 3342 also applied to landlords where the dog is house to find them liable for not taking steps to protect others from their tenant’s dog.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Causes Of Dog Bite Injuries?
The most common dog bite scenarios we encounter are dogs that get loose from a structure that is not properly maintained, like a broken fence. Another common instance is when an owner is unable to hold their dog on a leash.
What Are Some Common Injuries That You See People Sustain In Dog Bite Cases?
Injuries from the dog bites depend on the breed of dog. Some dogs can be very vicious, and can maul a victim. In these cases the victim can have not only life altering injuries but disfigurement to their face and body. Though mauling is not common, it does occur. Victims of mauling require plastic surgery and sometimes amputation. Some dog bite injuries can also be less severe, such as when a person trips over the leash of a loose dog and falls. Civil Code Section 3342 applies in this scenario as well.
How Serious Does An Injury Have To Be In Order To Make A Dog Bite Claim?
There is no minimum requirement to pursue a dog bite claim. The severity of the events obviously will dictate the value of each claim. Severe injuries such as maiming, amputation or scarring will obviously increase the value of one’s claim rights for general damages, but there is no minimum requirement for severity of injuries.
Who Might All Be Held Liable In A Dog Bite Injury Claim?
The dog’s owner is the first person held liable, but the owner of the property where the dog is housed may also be liable. Most of these claims are handled through the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. The claim against the dog owner is the simplest one to pursue. In the claim against the landlord, however, the claimant or the attorneys must show that the landlord was aware of the dog and knew that there was a deficit in the structure of the home, like an unrepaired fence or something similar in nature and that the dog housed on their property is vicious or has injured previously under Section 3342 of the Civil Code and California cased which have followed since.
Dog owners and property owners may be able to use a comparative negligence defense if the dog bite occurred as a result of the victim’s trespassing. For example, if a child jumps over a fence to retrieve their ball, and the dog in the other residence bites him, the owner and property owner can use this as a defense.
Should I Ever Try To Handle A Dog Bite Claim Without Legal Counsel?
No. More often than not, the dog owner is not aware of what his insurance will cover and/or offer to pay the victim. The untrained individual will be taken advantage of by the dog’s owner or his/her insurer.
The role of the attorney is to determine what, if any, potential liabilities exist against the homeowner and dog owner in order to maximize the recovery for the injured victim.
For more information on Dog Bite Claims In The State Of California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (323) 496-2234 today.
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