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California Dog Bites – What You Need to Know to Keep Yourself, Your Family, and Your Dog Safe

| Apr 18, 2016 | Firm News

If you or your child has been injured by a dog bite, seek medical attention immediately. After you or your child has received adequate care, contact an experienced dog bite attorney to learn more about your rights as a victim.

When is a Dog Owner Liable for a Bite in California?

In California, a dog’s owner is held strictly liable for the dog’s actions except for in the following cases:

  • The victim was trespassing on the owner’s property;
  • The victim was performing a paid service involving the dog, such as veterinary work or grooming;
  • The victim provoked the dog; or
  • The victim was injured while on the job by his or her employer’s dog.

The rules regarding liability in dog bite cases are written into section 3342 of the California Civil Code. Victims have up to two years following the date of a bite to file a personal injury claim unless the injury was not discovered immediately. If a victim does not realize his or her injury at the scene of the accident, he or she has one year from the date of the injury’s discovery to file a claim for monetary compensation. If the dog bite victim was a minor at the time of the bite, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim does not begin until his or her eighteenth birthday, effectively allowing him or her to file until his or her twentieth birthday.

If the Victim is a Child

When the victim of a dog bite is a minor, different rule regarding liability for the damages apply. A child younger than five years old can not be held responsible for provoking a dog and suffering a bite as a result. Likewise, a child who is bitten while performing his or her parent’s instructions also can not be held responsible for any injuries that occur.

Who Pays for a California Dog Bite Injury?

The dog’s owner is required to pay for any injuries his or her dog causes. Unlike other states, California does not have a “one bite” rule. This means that the first time your dog bites a victim, you are financially responsible for the resulting damages.

Many homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies include clauses that cover dog bites. If your policy has such a clause, you may file a claim with your insurance provider for monetary compensation for the victim’s injury. This monetary compensation can be used to cover any resulting costs, such as medical care, scarring and bruising, mental healthcare for resulting depression or anxiety issues, and lifestyle adaptations for temporary or permanent disabilities.

If a dog’s owner can prove that an adult victim was unlawfully on his or her property, he or she can avoid being held financially responsible for the victim’s injury. If the injury was not caused by a bite but rather by the dog jumping or charging at the victim, its owner might also be able to avoid being held responsible. This is because, unlike some other states’ animal-related injury statutes, California’s law clearly only covers injuries caused by bites.

Contact a San Diego Dog Bite Attorney

At Martinez & Schill LLP, our team of experienced San Diego dog bite attorneys is here to advocate for you. Contact us at 619-512-5995 to discuss your case with us and find out the best way to proceed toward a productive solution. Don’t wait to make the call – you have the right to seek monetary compensation for your dog bite injury. Get started on your case with us today.