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Dog Bite Injury in California? Know Your Rights

| Sep 15, 2016 | Firm News

There are a lot of misconceptions about dog bite injuries and fatalities. For example, people often assume that only “vicious” breeds are capable of causing severe injury or fatality. This simply is not accurate. Another common misconception is that children are the only ones at risk. While it is true that they are more likely to suffer a dog bite, and also more at risk for severe injury or fatality, adults may also be at risk for a dog bite injury if they come across an aggressive, strange, stressed, or hungry dog.

Another concerning misconception is that dog bite victims can only pursue damages if they are able to prove that the owner was somehow negligent. This single misunderstanding is why so many victims are left with unpaid medical bills, therapy bills, and lost income. As a result, they may experience severe or long-lasting financial devastation that can put their families and futures at risk. If you or someone you love has suffered a dog bite injury, do not make the same mistake! Learn the truth about California’s dog bites injury laws.

California’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Injury Law

While, in some states, a dog bite victim does have to prove negligence, this is not the case in California. Here, there is a strict liability law, which essentially means that the victim does not have to prove negligence for an injury resulting from a dog bite. Instead, they must only prove that:

  • They were in either a public place or lawfully in a private place at the time of the injury, and

  • That the injury caused a loss (medical expenses, time away from work, etc.).

The only real exceptions to this law pertain to dogs who were performing a service (i.e. police dog, military dog, etc.), or cases in which the dog was defending itself because it was being provoked, harassed, or annoyed by the victim. It should also be noted that the strict liability law does not cover scratches or injuries sustained from a fall caused by a jumping dog. However, a victim may be able to pursue damages through a negligence lawsuit if they sustained a fall injury or scratch injury.

Negligence Claims for Other Types of Dog Injuries

If a victim sustained injuries because of a dog that scratched them, jumped on them, or otherwise behaved in a way that led to injury, the victim may be able to pursue damages through a negligence claim. In these cases, the victim is burdened with proving that the owner somehow failed to practice due diligence to protect others from harm. For example, if a child was playing on a public sidewalk and a dog jumped on them and scratched them, causing an injury to the eye, then the child’s parent or guardian would need to prove that the owner failed to restrain the dog or keep it in an enclosure.

Why You Need Legal Representation for Your Dog Bite or Injury Case

Pursuing damages for a dog bite or injury might seem fairly straightforward, but victims should proceed with caution. Injuries that do not include a bite require the victim to prove negligence, which can be an onerous task, especially in cases where the owner has representation. Even victims that sustained a bite injury may have their case dismissed or settlement amount reduced if they do not have experienced legal representation.

At Martinez & Schill LLP, we are committed to helping you get the maximum compensation in your dog bite injury case. Our San Diego, California dog bite injury lawyers are dedicated to your best interests. We will aggressively protect your rights, every step of the way. Secure representation from a seasoned law firm with a track record of success. Call 619-512-5995 and schedule your consultation with us today.