We all love our dogs, but there are certain responsibilities that come with dog ownership. In California , dog owners are held strictly liable for injuries caused by their pet. This means that even if the owner did nothing wrong, they will still be held liable for any injuries if their dog attacks someone.
There are limited exceptions to California’s strict liability rule. Owners are not liable for dog attacks if: 1) the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property, 2) the victim physically threatened or attacked the owner, or 3) the victim provoked the dog in some way.
Strict liability applies only to dog bites. If you were injured by a dog jumping on you, as opposed to biting you, then you would have to show that the owner was negligent for letting the dog jump on you.
Some states have a “one bite” rule which exempts owners from liability if their pet has never bitten anyone before or shown any previous aggressive behavior. California has no such rule. Dog owners in California are held liable for attacks even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.
Keepers and handlers of animals (e.g. trainers and walkers) are not held to the strict liability standard. A keeper or handler must have knowledge that the dog had previously bit someone, or had a tendency to bite, in order to be held liable for injuries caused by an attack.
Dog attacks can cause severe injuries, and even death. Injuries caused by dog bites commonly include blood loss, nerve damage, puncture wounds, lacerations, infections, emotional distress, fractures and broken bones. Dogs more commonly attack children due to their small size, and commonly target the face, neck and head. Such attacks may result in permanent scarring and disfigurement.
If you were bitten by a dog, you probably have a lot of questions about what to do next. Here are some practical steps to follow from the American Veterinary Medical Association :
All bites which break the skin of a person must be reported to San Diego County Animal Services whose phone numbers are: Emergency Contact Number (619) 236-2341, Non-Emergency Number (619) 767-2675. The dog must be quarantined for ten days after the date of the bite. It is a crime for an owner not to quarantine a dog who has bitten someone. San Diego County provides this useful summary of San Diego pet ownership laws if you would like more information.
In addition to the steps above, we further suggest contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible in order to protect your legal rights.
If you were injured in a dog attack through no fault of your own, you may be eligible to recover for past and future medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, emotional pain and suffering, lost wages, lost earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, property damage and other damages. If someone has died as a result of a dog attack, their loved ones may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
James Iagmin has been handling personal injury claims since 1997 and has a proven track record of achieving the best possible results for his clients. Jim is known in the legal community as an outstanding lawyer and is recognized by his clients and fellow lawyers for his kindness, character and intelligence. Jim is a leader among personal injury lawyers and served as the President of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. Jim has received a number of honors and awards for his skill as a lawyer. Jim has achieved successful results for clients in the highest-stakes cases involving brain , spine , burn injury and wrongful death claims. You can read more about what Jim’s clients and fellow lawyers say about him on AVVO .
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