California is a Strict Liability Dog Bite State, and owners are responsible for their dogs even if they’ve never attacked anyone else before. Insurers will often try to blame you or your child for their injuries, accusing you of provoking the dog. If you were attacked by a dog in Tulare County or anywhere in the Central Valley, contact a Dog Bite Attorney at Maison Law. They understand what you are going through and know the laws on dog bites and personal injury. Contact them today for a free consultation regarding your rights and compensation for your injuries.
Strict Liability in California.
In many states, there is something called the “one bite rule” that allows dog owners to be free from liability if their dog hasn’t bitten anyone before. The idea is that if a dog hasn’t shown signs of aggression in the past, then the owner wasn’t “negligent” when the dog bit the victim.
California has a law that specifically rejects that rule and says that the owner is under “strict liability” for any bite damage done by their dog—even if it hasn’t ever bitten anyone or been aggressive.
California Civil Code Section 3342 states that the owner of a dog is liable for damages from a bite if:
- the damages were caused by a dog bite, and
- the person bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place.
Public Place/Lawfully in Private Place
This is a rule that protects dog owners from trespassers who then say that they were bitten by a dog. This means that before you can use the law to help you make your personal injury claim for a dog bite, you must have been bitten in a public place like a sidewalk or even if the dog came in your yard and bit you. It also means that if you were on someone else’s property unlawfully, then you couldn’t rely on the law either.
However, just because you are on someone else’s property, doesn’t mean that you were trespassing. For example, if you are delivering a package to someone’s front door, or visiting them and in their back yard, or on their property in any way that is legal, then the law applies. In fact, many attacks happen while visiting friends or family.
If you’ve been injured by a dog and are wondering if you should file a claim, don’t wait too long. There is a filing deadline in a dog bite case that will prevent you from making an otherwise valid claim, and if you miss it, the odds of finding a loophole is very small. As of today (May of 2019) the statute of limitations is two years, but don’t count on this as laws can be changed. You should talk to an attorney right away if you think you might have a dog bite case.
Damages in a Dog Bite Case
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, then you already know what damage can be done to you. In any personal injury, the law allows the victim to recoup financial losses for being injured. Some are obvious like medical bills and lost time from work. Others are not so easily defined such as pain and suffering, but money is the only way to compensate someone, so the law will try to put a money value on intangible things. Some of these damages are:
- Medical bills
- Lost time from work
- Permanent disability
- Transportation to treatment
- Job retraining (if you can’t do your old job)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of Consortium (physical intimacy)
- Mental anguish
Public Entity Owned Dog Parks
In California there is a law that exempts all owners of publicly owned dog parks from liability due to a dog attack in a dog park. This means that if you are in a dog park that is owned by the city, county or other public entity, then you can’t sue the government for your injuries. (CGC 831.7.5)
This doesn’t stop the victim from suing the owner of the dog.
Privately Owned Dog Parks
If the park is owned by a private company or person, then the victim can sue for compensation without being affected by the public entity exception law. However, the victim has to show that the dog park was negligent somehow. This means that the dog attack resulted in something that the owner did or didn’t do that caused the injuries.
Visalia Dog Parks
Visalia has several great dog parks that serve the community.
- Cody Kelly Dog Bark Park
- Seven Oaks Bark Park
- Plaza Park Bark Park
- Exeter Bark Park (Exeter)
Visalia Dog Bite Lawyer
Consult with an attorney who understands California’s dog bite laws, personal injury law and insurance and liability law. When you contact Maison Law, we will take the time to listen to your story and help you decide whether the case is worth pursuing. As a respected Visalia personal injury lawyer, we will only take on the case if we think it is in your best interest.