If you or your child has been attacked by a dog, you will know how traumatic and upsetting the experience can be. It is not only the physical pain and injuries sustained from the incident that can have a long-term effect: The psychological trauma of the incident can have a profound impact on a person’s daily life.
It is possible to take action to gain back damages if you or a loved one was injured by a dog in California. However, before doing so, you should make sure that you have a clear understanding of how the law applies to your situation. The following is a brief overview of dog bite liability and negligence as it applies to incidents in California.
Dog owners in California have strict liability
When a dog bites another person, the owner of the dog has strict liability. This means that in almost all circumstances, the owner is responsible for the vicious behavior of the dog.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. It only applies when the incident occurred in a public space or in a private place where the dog bite victim was lawfully present. In other words, trespassers are not protected. Additionally, this rule does not apply to police or military dogs.
Negligence is presumed in some situations
In many personal injury claims, the injured person must prove that the other party acted negligently. However, when it comes to dog bites in California, the “negligence per se” doctrine comes into play. This means that if a dog owner violates animal control laws — for example, if they allow their dog to roam free — they will automatically be considered negligent if the dog proceeds to attack and bite a person.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in California, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the incident in order to have a chance of gaining back the damages that you deserve.