Who’s Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury in California?
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but it’s important to remember the animal nature that lies within every dog. Even the most gentle dog can still snap at someone when pushed far enough. Southern California sees its fair share of dog bites, with about 20,000 dog bites happening every year in Los Angeles County alone. The team at the Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates helps dog bite victims like you fight for justice via a personal injury claim.
The American Animal Hospital Association has compiled a list of which dog breeds are most likely to bite. Unfortunately, in most cases, the breed was unknown. After the number one spot, you’ll find pit bulls, mixed breed dogs, German shepherds, terriers, and Rottweilers. The dogs least likely to bite include Dalmatians, pointers, Great Danes, Pekingese, and spitz.
At the Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates, we pride ourselves on being active in our community. When you’ve been bitten and you don’t know where to turn, our committed advocates have your back. Call us at 562-216-2944 to set up a consultation now.
Strict Liability in California
Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions of dog bites is the universal nature of the one-bite rule. If you ask most people about dog bite cases, they’ll confidently tell you that each dog gets “one bite” free. This means that the owner is not responsible for damages resulting from a dog’s first bite, since they could not have known that the dog was aggressive. Once they know the dog is aggressive, though, they are liable for all subsequent bites.
However, the one-bite law is far from universal. These laws are drawn up on a state-by-state basis, and California does not have a one-bite law. In California, pet owners have strict liability for bites and other types of injuries. Per California Civil Code 3342, the owner of a dog is liable for damages suffered by anyone who is bitten by a dog while in a public place or while legally in a private place. It does not matter if it’s the dog’s first bite or tenth—the owner is liable for damages incurred by victims.
Negligence in Dog Bite Claims
Not only are dog owners strictly liable for damage caused by their dog, they may also be held liable because of negligence on their part. This begins with establishing a duty of care from a dog owner to other people. This duty of care is presumed to exist, as a dog owner is expected to take reasonable steps to protect others from their dog’s behavior. They violate that duty when they take the dog off-leash outside of off-leash areas, fail to keep ahold of the dog’s leash, fail to report aggressive behavior on the part of the dog, or take the dog into situations they know will be unsafe for the dog.
The dog owner isn’t always the liable party in these claims. If the pet owner is a renter, their landlord may be held liable for damage caused by a renter’s dog. Landlords and property owners must take reasonable steps to protect tenants and visitors from preventable damage. This means that a landlord can generally only be held liable if they had reason to believe that the dog was aggressive or prone to biting. This is one reason you see many rentals forbid dog breeds commonly known to be aggressive.
Another potentially liable third party is a dog walker. Dog walkers are expected to exercise reasonable care when taking dogs out in public, and if they violate that duty by letting a dog off-leash or failing to hold the leash, they could be held liable for subsequent bites.
Doggy daycares or boarding facilities may also be held liable for bites if they do not take proper steps to keep dogs secure and safe. Consider a boarding facility with patchy spots in its fence. Despite knowing about the weak spots in the fence, the owner does not take steps to fix them. As a result, an aggressive dog slips out and bites a pedestrian walking nearby. The victim could sue the boarding facility.
Were You Bitten by a Dog? Call the Dog Bite Lawyers at the Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates
Don’t let the financial devastation of a personal injury take over your life. Our dog bite attorney is here to advocate for you. Call us at 562-216-2944 or fill out our online contact form to set up a time to talk.
Attorney Robin D. Perry has been part of the Long Beach Community for over 25 years handling business litigation, employment litigation and advising, criminal defense, personal injury and code enforcement defense for businesses.