California has strict laws to deal with dog bite cases. Whether you are a dog owner or someone who want to make a claim against dog attack, then you should be aware of the rules prevailing in the state to handle such cases. Following are some information that will give you insight to California dog bite laws.
When the owner does have strict liability?
California has “strict liability” laws which make pet owners liable for the injuries caused by their dog. When a victim files a lawsuit to claim compensation for the damages incurred by them because of the dog bite injuries, it will not matter to the judiciary that whether the owner is aware of the vicious nature of his dog prior to that incident. That is, in California, the owner will be held responsible for the first bite itself that his/her dog makes. Therefore, they will not able to argue that they were oblivious to the dangerous nature of their dogs.
According to the laws in California, a dog owner only has “strict liability” if the victim of the dog attack was bitten and was either in public place or “lawfully in a private place” when the bite occurred. The law also states that a person doing a legal activity, such as delivering a mail, is lawfully on private property.
Also, an injured person cannot file a lawsuit if he/she is bitten by a military or police dogs that were either engaged in law enforcement work or were defending themselves from a provocative or annoying behavior.
Even if the dog grabs some by its teeth but doesn’t result in breaking skin, it can be also considered as a dog bite.
When dog attack do not result in a bite
If a dog attack does not result in a bite, then the strict liability statute for dog owners will not help the victims, even if there are some other injuries involved. For example, if a dog chased a person on a bicycle or a motorcycle and resulted in an accident, then it will not come under the strict liability statute.
However, there is another option available for them. If they prove that the cause for the injuries is the dog owner’s negligence, then they can receive compensation. For instance, consider a situation when a dog attacked you when you were on a public property and you encountered some other injuries but didn’t get bitten, then you can file a lawsuit showing that the negligence of the dog owner resulted in the attack, such as failing to keep it in leash or inside a fenced-yard. Then you can recover money for your losses.
This can be a bit complicated considering that there is no direct law or rule to deal with such situations. But a good dog bite attorney can help you to find the right defenses that you can use in such cases against the dog owner. A dog bite lawyer will have experience in such cases and they will assist you to claim the right compensation that you deserve.
Laws on dangerous dogs in California
The laws in California strictly direct the dog owner to take necessary measures to prevent their dog from attacking another person, after it is known to have bitten someone in the past. Anyone can file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog who bites a human twice (in different cases) or if the dog has seriously injured someone with even a single bite. The court will instruct the owner to take necessary steps to prevent attacks in the future. But these instructions should not be based on a dog’s history of biting trespassers or on bites caused by working military or police dogs.
There are also separate legal procedures in California to control a dangerous dog. Law enforcement or animal control officers can file a petition for a hearing if they suspect that a dog is dangerous. If the court finds that a dog is a threat, then the owner will have to meet certain conditions to keep it, like keeping the dog on a secure leash, or keeping it indoors or inside a fenced yard that will keep the dog away from people. If the owners violate these conditions they might be fined.
As per the rules and regulations in California, a dog will be considered potentially dangerous if:
- The dog has shown aggressive behavior and forced people to defend themselves from attack in at least two different cases in the past three years.
- The dog bites someone without being provoked and results in an injury.
- Domestic animals were injured or killed by the dog twice within the last three years.
The dog will be considered to be vicious by the law if:
- it aggressively injured or killed a person without any provocation or,
- The dog was already determined dangerous by a court, but the owner failed to meet the legal conditions or if the dog repeated its aggressive behavior.