Maybe not. In California the law is on the side of the victim. California Civil Code section 3342, also known as the “Dog Bite Statute”, applies strict liability to the owner of a dog. So if you are a victim, you have powerful rights!
If it happened in a public place, like on the sidewalk or in a park, the strict liability law applies and you may have a good case. If the dog bite occurred at a private residence you may still have a case if you were lawfully allowed to be on the premises when the dog bite occurred. But, if you were trespassing, or there without permission, the law may not apply to you and you may not recover.
The California Dog Bite Statute only applies when the dog bites you. The statute does not cover injuries caused by a dog that attacks you but does not bite you. For example, if a large dog jumps on you and knocks you over and you break your arm the strict liability statute will not apply. You may however still be able to file a case based on negligence. So if you suffered a bite, be sure to go to the doctor and document the bite in the medical records. If there was no bite, contact Higher Legal to seek the advice of an attorney regarding a negligence case.
Most people do not realize that injuries from a dog bite are usually covered by the homeowner’s policy or renter’s insurance policy of the dog’s owners. That is true even if the dog bite occurred in a park or someplace away from their residence. Therefore, it is imperative that you know the identity of all of the dog’s owners. There is often more than one person who ‘owns’ a dog. And it may not be the person who was walking or watching the dog. Therefore, it is very important that you try to identify all owners of the dog and all persons who were responsible for watching the dog at the time of the dog bite.
No. The statute does not require the dog’s owner to have prior knowledge that the dog was aggressive or had bitten a previous person. The owners of the dog can be responsible even if this was the first time the dog bit someone.
Yes. There are some important things you should watch out for: The insurance company will often claim that the dog bit you because you provoked the dog. If they prove that you provoked a dog, thereby creating a dangerous situation, they are not responsible for your injuries. This is especially important in a case when the victim is a child. A common tactic by insurance companies is to defend these cases by arguing that the child provoked the dog and the dog was just acting in a way that any dog would react. That is a false argument. Children naturally love animals, are curious about them and naturally reach out to them. That is way dog owners have a duty of care to restrain their dogs and to prevent them from contacting children. If you are a parent of a child who is the victim of a dog bite, it is important for you to contact Higher Legal before speaking with anyone else in order to seek the advice of an attorney regarding your child’s case.
The California Dog Bite Statute may not protect you if you ignored a clearly posted “Beware of Dog” sign. This is another tactic that insurance companies use to defend these cases. Don’t let the insurance company make the claim that there was a “Beware of Dog” sign so it is your fault. Their argument does not work if you have not seen the sign or if it is not clearly posted.
If it is a stray dog, there might not be anyone to sue. If there are one or more owners, you need to identify who they are. Ask witnesses who were with the dog, ask neighbors, and call the police to report the incident as they may locate the dog owners.
You need to document the dog, the injuries, and the area where the attack occurred (i.e. was the gate left open?).
Don’t wash the blood out of your shirt! Don’t throw away those torn up pants. This is all evidence of the severity of the attack. And be sure to get the names of all witnesses who were there.
Most dog bite injuries are to the face and the hands. Serious infections and permanent scars can often be prevented by immediate and aggressive medical treatment. It is important to seek medical treatment right away, and remember when you are speaking to the nurses and doctors who treat you; whatever they write down in your medical chart is going to be used in your dog bite case to show what happened! So be careful what you say and be specific about how you describe the attack to the doctors and nurses.
Get an immediate and FREE legal consultation from an experienced personal injury dog bite lawyer and a referral to the very best personal injury lawyers in town. (424) 388-1000.
Higher Legal is certified by the California State Bar (LRS #130) so you can trust the information you receive from Higher Legal is the most reliable legal information available and has met the strictest standards of the State Bar. You can call us at (424) 388-1000, or fill out this form and a licensed California attorney will get back to you within the next business day.
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