One of the benefits of California’s warm climate is that it allows Californians to be physically active outdoors year-round. While this is one of many upsides to California life, one of the downsides of outdoor fitness is dog bite injuries. Recently, the greater Los Angeles area was named the “dog bite capital of the nation,” according to U.S. Postal Service statistics. Given the prevalence of dogs and dog bites in California, it’s important to know who’s liable and what kinds of recovery you can get if you are attacked by a dog.
Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury?
Generally, the owner of a dog is liable for a dog bite injury. This is why it is necessary to determine who owns the dog that bites you. In California, a dog owner is strictly liable for any dog bite, even if they tried to prevent the attack, protect others from the attack, or had no reason to know the dog was dangerous. Non-owners may also be held liable. For example, if the dog is in the care or custody of a kennel, pound, or animal shelter, or if a property owner allowed the dangerous animal onto the property, they may be held liable. A landlord may also be held liable for a tenant’s dangerous pet. In general, the common theme with all of these parties is that they have some sort of control over the animal’s presence on the property.
Can a Dog Bite Victim Ever be Found Responsible?
If a dog bite victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property, the victim may be found to be responsible for their injuries. This is because, under property law, dog owners do not owe a duty of care to unknown trespassers for potentially dangerous situations occurring on their property. So, if you were bitten while taking a shortcut through someone’s property, or if you were otherwise trespassing on their land, you may not be able to recover.
What Kind of Damages Can I Get for a Dog Bite Injury?
Determining damages stemming from dog bites can be complicated, which is why it’s important to consult an attorney immediately after you are bitten. Another reason to contact an attorney right away? While homeowners’ insurance will usually cover most dog bite accidents, some insurance companies will attempt to offer dog bite victims a less than fair settlement.
The amount and kinds of damages you are eligible to seek depend on a variety of factors. How serious are your injuries? Did you contribute to the accident, such as via trespassing? Often, dog bite victims can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even property damages. In cases where the facts demonstrate that the bite was caused by a dog owner’s reckless or intentional conduct, victims may also be able to seek punitive damages.
What Should You Do if You Are Bitten by a Dog?
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they can also be dangerous. If you have been bitten by a dog and were injured, you deserve compensation for your injury and any resulting pain and suffering it has caused. The personal injury attorneys at J&Y Law are ready to help you determine your options. Contact J&Y Law today to learn more.