Seven Most Important Things to Know When Your Child Suffers a Dog Bite

February 16, 2021

If you have a dog, it’s hard to imagine good old Fido biting your child, let alone inflicting lifetime injuries on an innocent kid. However, not every dog is well trained and cared for—and sometimes, even great dogs are pushed past their limits, and their animal instinct takes over. Children are especially prone to dog bite injuries, since they’re loud, unpredictable and less likely to know how to behave around animals. They’re also smaller and more vulnerable, which means any bite covers a larger percentage of their bodies. This can lead to serious injuries and costly medical bills.

California dog bite laws and how to recover compensation

Here’s what you need to know about getting compensation after a dog bites your child in Chico, CA:

  • Know the law: California Civil Code section 3342 governs dog injuries. If your child was bitten by a dog, the owner is liable for damages if 1) the damages were caused by the dog bite, and 2) your child was bitten in a public place, or in a private place where they were legally allowed. This could be anywhere from your local park to the dog owner’s home.
  • Strict liability: California is a strict liability state, meaning that even if the dog has never acted aggressively in their life, the owner is still responsible for the damages they cause. As long as the injury was caused by a bite, the victim need only prove they were in public or lawfully in a private place when the bite occurred.
  • Trespassing defense: Generally, a dog owner’s only recourse to the dog bite statute is proving that the victim was trespassing when the bite occurred.
  • Government or military dogs: If your child was bitten by a government or military dog—for example, a police canine unit—they will not be held responsible if the dog was acting in the course of their duties, and if the dog was not provoked. Otherwise, the owners or agency will be responsible for damages.
  • What you can recover: If your child suffered injuries from the dog bite, and they were legally allowed to be on that property, you can recover damages for medical bills, future surgery and rehabilitation, pain and suffering and more. Some parents can also recover for lost time at work that they spent caring for their child.
  • All other injuries: If a dog injured your child without biting them, you won’t be able to recover damages under Civil Code section 3342—but you may be able to pursue a negligence claim against the owner. Call an attorney to discuss the details of your individual case.
  • Statute of limitations: You have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit—in other words, the sooner, the better.

If your family has been impacted by a dog bite incident involving a child in Chico, CA, call The Law Offices of Max G. Arnold, Inc. today. We can help you recover compensation for their injuries, and look forward to discussing your case.

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