Woman nursing her dog bite.

California Dog Bite Disclosure Law Review 2020

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Dog bites and dog attacks can result in serious injuries and disabilities. It is important for individuals to understand their legal rights after a dog bite. Our Los Angeles dog bite accident attorney explains a significant change in California’s dog bite laws for 2020 and reviews what you should do if you are bitten by a dog in California. 

California Dog Bite Disclosure Law

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 588 on October 2, 2019, which changes the dog bite disclosure requirements for animal shelters in California. The new law became effective as of January 1, 2020. The law applies to animal shelters, humane societies, and rescue groups. 

Animal shelters and rescue agencies that offer dogs for adoption must disclose the known bite history of the dog to adopters. The adopters must sign a statement that they have been made aware of the dog’s bite history. The law applies to dogs that are sold, given away, or transferred. 

The law protects adopters by providing clear information about bite history so that they can make an informed decision before adopting a dog. However, the law does not cover aggressions, so adopters should still inquire about aggressive behaviors or a history of aggressive behaviors before adopting a dog.

Why is the Dog Bite Disclosure Law Important?

Under California’s strict liability for dog bites, a dog owner can be held liable for all damages caused by a dog bite or dog attack if the legal criteria for a dog bite claim are met. The legal criteria for a dog bite claim are:

  1. The person bitten was in a public place or was on private property legally; and, 
  2. The person bitten did not provoke the dog. 

If the claim meets the criteria, a dog owner could be responsible for thousands of dollars in financial and noneconomic damages.

The new dog bite disclosure law can help adopters avoid personal liability. If a dog has a bite history, an adopter can choose another dog. While any dog can be aggressive or attack without warning, knowing the bite history of a potential pet protects adopters and others from a potentially life-altering dog bite injury.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Injury

If a dog bites you or your child, it is important to take immediate steps to protect your legal rights. Dog bite claims can be extremely complicated. Even if you were legally on the premises and a dog bit you, there could be other factors involved that give rise to one or more defenses for the dog owner. Taking certain steps after a dog attack can help increase your chance of recovering fair compensation for your dog bite injury.

After a dog bite in California:

  • Report the dog bite to the dog owner and the authorities. Check with your local police department or animal shelter for guidance in reporting dog bites.
  • Seek immediate medical attention. Severe complications can result from dog bites, including infections, nerve damage, and scarring. Immediate medical attention can help prevent or reduce the severity of some of these complications. Also, prompt medical attention helps strengthen your dog bite injury claim.
  • Take photographs of your injury. It can also be helpful to have photographs of the injury as you recover.
  • Keep copies of all documents related to the dog bite, including police reports, animal control reports, medical records, and proof of medical bills and loss of income.
  • Contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you take additional steps that protect your legal rights, including identifying the liable parties, gathering evidence, documenting damages, filing insurance claims, dealing with insurance adjusters, and avoiding mistakes that can hurt your claim. 

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney for More Information 

Being bitten by a dog can cause severe physical injuries and emotional harm. It can also cause permanent impairments and significant financial damages. Contact our office to discuss your case with an experienced dog bite injury lawyer. Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys investigate dog bite claims and help victims seek the compensation they deserve after being bitten by a dog.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.