According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 4.5 million people within the United States will be bitten by a dog each year. 20% of those cases include the bite victim developing some sort of illness, disease, or bacterial infection, like rabies. Many dog bite cases do not even involve a random stray but instead a trusted family companion, possibly even one on a leash or tether.
Since animals are unpredictable by nature, a dog bit can occur at feasibly any time a canine is around. It is therefore important to know your rights, just in case you or someone you love is ever bitten by someone else’s dog.
California Uses Strict Own Liability Laws
In California, every dog owner is directly responsible for the actions of their dogs at all times. The state’s strict liability law allows dog bite victims to seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and possibly pain and suffering damages from a dog owner, even when the specific dog never behaved outwardly aggressive in the past. This set of laws is contrary to many states, which use a “one-bite” law that minimizes a dog owner’s liability for the first time a dog ever bites someone.
There are gray areas and loopholes in California dog bite law that can remove any liability from the dog owner. If a dog bites, attacks, or otherwise harms someone who is not in a public place or who is not lawfully in a private place, then the dog bite victim might not be able to sue for compensation. On the other hand, dog owners are often required to post ample warnings around the perimeter of their property to warn would-be trespassers of their potentially aggressive canine. If they do not, then they might still be held liable for any harm caused to the intruder.
A dog bite victim might also not be able to file a dog bite claim if they were:
- Committing a felony during the animal attack.
- Hurting the dog or another person when they were attacked.
- Intentionally coercing or taunting the dog to attack.
Since California’s “strict liability” laws are not as strict as the name implies, it is important to always explore your rights as a dog bite victim with the help of an attorney. You can contact Habbas & Associates to speak with our San Jose dog bite lawyers about what happened during a completely free, no-obligation consultation. Using our vast experience and legal insight, we can help you determine if you have a valid dog bite claim, and what you should be doing next to seek maximum compensation.