Dog bites can result in very serious injuries. Smaller dogs, while unable to break bones, still carry millions of bacteria that can quickly infect a wound. Naturally, larger dogs can tear skin, break bones, and rupture ligaments. Many states have enacted what are known as “one-bite-laws.”
These state that dog owners are not responsible for their dog’s actions of the dog has no prior history of violence; essentially one free bite. California is not one of those states. California law places responsibility for all damages caused by a dog bite directly on the owner. Escondido dog bite lawyers represent individuals in their cases against dog owners to recover fair compensation for their injuries. Contact a skilled attorney today to begin your claim.
California Dog Bite Laws
California considers dog bites to be strict liability cases. This means that the owner is responsible for any damage caused by the dog regardless of circumstances or the dog’s history. California Civil Code Section 3342 specifically states that “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten while in a public place or lawfully in a private place…regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
There are a pair of interesting things to note here. First, that the person bit must be in a public place, or lawfully in a private place. The public place portion speaks for itself: any bite that happens on the street, or in a park, is automatically the dog owner’s fault. The other portion recognizes that dogs may occasionally be acting in a way to defend their owner’s well being.
Only people who are expressly invited onto the dog owner’s land are protected. Trespassers are afforded no rights under this law. Therefore, an initial question to ask is whether the person who was bitten on private property had the right to be there.
A second interesting point to California law is that it does not require the plaintiff to prove the dog’s vicious nature or the owner’s knowledge of it. Many states do abide by a “one-bite-law” that makes this proof a requirement for recovery. California does not. Whether the dog is known to be a menace in the neighborhood, or was just purchased by the owner, all bites are the owner’s fault. However, injuries that are not bites must be examined within a traditional negligence framework as this statute does not apply.
There are a few notable exceptions to this strict liability rule. If the dog bite occurs as a part of the police’s apprehension of a criminal suspect, or the bitten person provoked the dog, the bitten person has no remedy under this statute. However, it is the burden of the defendant in these cases to demonstrate that this was the case.
Statute of Limitations in Dog Bite Cases
Potential plaintiffs should be aware that there is a limited time within which a case may be filed. The legal term for this is the statute of limitations.
California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1 states that all people alleging a personal injury have only two years after the incident to file a lawsuit. This may seem like a long time, but a full medical recovery and settlement negotiations can take months. Time is of the essence so contact Escondido dog bite lawyers right away.
Talk to an Escondido Dog Bite Attorney Today
Being bitten by a dog can result in severe injuries, even if the dog is small. Many defendants may claim that the dog has never done this before, and therefore this incident is not their fault. California’s dog bite laws say otherwise.
All dog owners are responsible for bites that happen in public and to invited guests. Escondido dog bite lawyers understand the law as it applies to dog bites and represent individuals who have been bitten to identify all possible defendants and to pursue their claims for damages with speed and vigor. There is a limited time to file a claim so contact right away.