Millions of pet owners enjoy the love and companionship of dogs. While dogs may be playful, peaceful, and loving to their owners, they may not react the same way to other people or animals.
Roughly 4.5 million dog bites are reported annually, with the majority occurring in California. And, while many dog bites don’t result in physical injury, the emotional trauma of a dog attack can be severe and long-lasting.
California dog bite accident attorneys advise dog owners to become informed of the legal responsibilities and liability associated with dog ownership, and they advocate for victims entitled to compensatory damages for injuries suffered from a dog attack.
4 Things to Know About Dog Bites in California
Strict Liability Rule for Dog Owners
California’s strict liability rule means that dog owners are strictly liable if their dog bites someone on public or private property.
Dog owners cannot claim “lack of awareness” as a defense against liability in dog bite incidents. This means that even if an owner had no prior knowledge of any aggression in their dog, the owner is still liable for the dog’s bite or attack. Attempts to restrain an aggressive dog similarly does not release the dog owner from liability.
However, if the victim was illegally trespassing on private property or was in the act of committing a crime on the property or against the owner at the time of the dog bite, the dog owner most likely will not be held liable for the incident. Additionally, if the dog bite or attack was the result of taunting or provocation by the victim, the owner has room to defend against liability.
Dog Owners May Face Criminal Charges for Dog Bite Incidents
The California Statute providing for dangerous or vicious dogs details that dog owners may face criminal charges if they had prior knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies.
Dog owners with knowledge of a dog’s past tendencies to be harmful, and particularly those who have not taken adequate or reasonable measures to correct or prevent aggressive behaviors, open themselves to criminal charges and penalties.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims
The California statute of limitations for dog bite claims is two years from the date of the incident. If a victim’s claim is not filed within the two-year limitation, the right to file a claim could expire.
Ongoing medical treatment and attempts to negotiate an insurance settlement consume valuable time. It is essential to engage the services of an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after the dog bite incident to protect your right to file a claim. A seasoned attorney will act within the time restrictions to protect your claim, allowing you to focus on healing and recovery.
Compensation for Dog Bite Victims
In addition to physical injuries, many victims experience post-traumatic stress resulting from a dog attack. Your California dog bite attorney understands that the emotional trauma and future pain and suffering resulting from a dog attack deserve compensation and will vigorously pursue damages on your behalf.
An experienced dog bite lawyer will demand a settlement inclusive of immediate and future expenses, including reconstructive or plastic surgery, psychological counseling, lost wages, and necessary lifestyle modifications.
Dog Bite Lawyers
No one wins in the unfortunate event of a dog attack. The victim of the attack suffers physical and emotional injury. The dog is generally removed from its home and sometimes euthanized. The dog owner faces potential civil and criminal liability.
California dog bite lawyers are committed to improving dog stewardship through education and holding negligent dog owners accountable for attacks while advocating for dog bite victims.
If you have been affected by a dog attack, contact an experienced California dog bite injury attorney today.