Who is liable in dog bite injuries?
The aftermath of a dog bite can often be very painful for the victim, and quite costly for the dog’s owner. The Insurance Information Institute estimates at least 33 percent of homeowner insurance claims stem from dog bites, which has amounted to 15,000 to 16,000 claims per year over the past decade.
New information published in the fall of last year reveals emergency room visits for serious dog bites in California are up by 44 percent in the last 10 years. The data comes from the California office of statewide health, planning and development, and does not include children.
When Am I Liable?
The stipulations of liability for dog owners in California are relatively strict compared to other states. Section 3342 of California’s Civil Code writes a dog owner is liable in the event of a bite if:
1. Damages were due to a dog bite.
2. The victim was bitten in public place or was legally in a private place.
A victim who is looking to claim damages due to a dog bite must be able to show a lack of reasonable care by the owner, and the fact that the lack of reasonable care caused the injury.
California is known as a strict liability state, which means that the owner of a dog can be held liable “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog, or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” The statue of limitations for a dog bite injury case, which falls under the realm of a personal injury in California, is two years after the occurrence of the bite.
What About Criminal Liability?
Dog owners in California can face civil and criminal liability in certain situations after a dog bite or attack, especially if the dog in question has been labeled as dangerous or vicious.
A dog that has “aggressively inflicted severe injury or killed a human” can be classified as vicious, while a dog who “has bitten another person unprovoked, causing a non-severe injury” can be regarded as dangerous under California law. The owners of dogs who have been classified as dangerous or vicious can be charged with misdemeanors or felonies in certain situations where a person was killed if they took “all the precautions that the circumstances permitted.”
Steps to Take if You Have Been Bitten
If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important to identify the owner, if possible, so that you can hold them responsible for your injuries. Because dog bites can cause secondary infections, it is also critical that you been seen immediately for medical treatment. Be sure to keep detailed records of your recollection of the incident, as well as you medical treatments, pain level and expenses.
Have You Been Injured By a Dog?
Dog bite incidents can be traumatic and painful. Talking with an experienced personal injury attorney early in the process can help take some of the pain out of the process. The law firm of J&Y represents personal injury victims in Los Angeles, San Diego, and throughout the State of California. Contact us today for a free consultation at 888.806.6722.