Dangerous Dog Bites in California

July 13, 2021

Most dog owners swear that their little Fluffykins would never hurt a fly, but if you’ve been bitten, you’ll probably have a much different opinion. Even the nicest dogs are still animals, and they can attack even when unprovoked. California is a strict liability dog bite state, which might mean you have a slam-dunk case against the dog’s owner. Here’s what you need to know about bringing a dog bite case in California with help from your personal injury lawyer.

Strict liability dog bite laws

California’s strict liability dog bite laws state that even if the dog has never bitten anyone else before, the owner is still liable for all damages that occur. They can’t claim that they didn’t understand the dog was aggressive or had no idea that the dog would act that way—if their dog bites someone, they must pay the costs associated with that bite. These could include medical treatment, lost wages, mental health care (some dog bite incidents are incredibly traumatic) and more.

The only thing that a plaintiff has to prove is that the dog bit them when they were in public, or lawfully in a private place. You won’t need to prove that the owner knew their dog was aggressive or that the dog had bitten other people before.

Defenses to dog bite laws

Even though California is a strict liability dog bite state, there are defenses to the dog bite statutes. The main defense hinges on whether the plaintiff was in public, or lawfully on private property. If you were trespassing, for example, you may not be able to collect damages for your bite injuries—the dog was probably just trying to protect their turf. However, if a dog bit you on a public street, in a park or as you were walking by someone’s home, you should be in the clear.

If a dog bites you on private property and you were a guest, or were otherwise invited onto private property, you should still be able to recover damages under California’s dog bite laws.

In rare cases, government and military agencies may be allowed to argue that the plaintiff provoked the dog. If you think this may be the case in your specific circumstances, be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

What to do when you suffer a dog bite

If you’ve been bitten by someone else’s dog in California, make sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible—preferably within the first three days after the bite. It’s important to ensure you weren’t infected with rabies or other transmissible diseases.

After you’ve sought medical attention, be sure to preserve all your medical and financial records. Your dog bite lawyer will want to review how much money you’ve had to spend on medical, psychological and other care in order to determine how much you should be compensated.

When you’ve been bitten by a dog in California, call the Law Offices of Max G. Arnold, Inc. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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