Personal Injury – Dog Bite
What if you are bitten by a dog?
In California, 38,000 people are bitten by dogs annually. If you are bitten by a dog, you can receive compensation from the owner of the dog. California Civil Code Section 3342 states that dog owners are solely responsible for damages if a victim’s injury is due to a dog bite. If the victim was bitten by a dog while he or she was not intruding on a private property or threatening the dog or was providing services such as walking the dog or grooming, the dog owner has all legal responsibility.
In California, owners are strictly liable for damages incurred to a victim by their dogs. This means that even if the owner did not know that his or her dog would act aggressively, the owner cannot escape liability. The owner is responsible for all damages incurred by the dog as a result of a bite, even if the dog has never bitten anyone in the past. If you have been bitten by a dog, you must prove that you were in a public place at the time of the accident or lawfully on a private property. The victim, however, does not need to prove that the dog owner had known beforehand that the dog was going to bite or that the dog owner did not take precautionary measures to prevent it.
Claims for dog bite injuries are considered personal injury lawsuit; therefore, it must be filed within two years from the date of the incident. However, dog bite law does not apply if the victim was injured through any other action than a bite. For example, if a dog jumps on a child and accidentally scratches the child while he or she is playing on the sidewalk, the cause of the injury is not a dog bite. The dog bite law does not apply, but in this case negligence rule would apply. The dog owner’s failure to take control of the dog would be considered a direct cause of the injury.
What if your dog bit someone else?
A California dog owner can contend “trespassing” as a defense against the claim that someone else was bitten by the dog. In order for the victim to recover damages, the victim must prove that he or she was lawfully in a public or private place at the time of the incident. However, a person who is injured by a dog while trespassing on a private property cannot be compensated for the damages. Also if the victim is bitten by a dog while the dog was performing a police or military mission or the victim was provoking the dog, the victim cannot recover damages.
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