Common FAQs on California Dog Bite Lawsuits

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The California Civil Code 3342, or California’s dog bite law, outlines how a dog owner can be held liable for in case his/her pet bites and injures an individual. It states that “the owner of any dog is liable for damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” This is also known as “strict liability”.

The Civil Code 3342 further adds that the injured person should be on the property lawfully when he/she was bitten by the dog to file a lawsuit. Besides, the California dog bite law does not apply to cases when the canine is used for military or police work. In addition, an injured person cannot file a dog bite lawsuit if he/she assumed the risk or was partially responsible for the injuries. Below are some of the common FAQs regarding California’s dog bite law and lawsuits that will help to shed more light on the topic.

How Can I Prove Dog Bite Case?

California Civil Code 3342 holds the dog owner strictly liable for compensating for the injuries and damages sustained due to the dog bite. In order to prove your case, you will need to show that the defendant is the owner of the dog, that you were bitten when you were in a public place or on the private property lawfully, and that the dog bite injured you physically.

What is a Strict Liability?

Strict liability refers to a legal expression that holds a person liable for his/her conduct, even though he/she was not negligent. However, to prove your dog bite lawsuit in court, you may have to establish the negligence of the dog owner as well.

What Does Being in a “Public Place or Lawfully on Private Property” Mean?

California’s dog bite law does not apply to people who were trespassing on another person’s property. You need to be in a public place, such as a park, sidewalk, or store during its business hours, when the dog bit you to file a lawsuit. Being “lawfully on private property” means when the property owner invited you in or when you were performing an official duty under the state or federal law.

How Severe the Injuries Need to Be to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Civil Code 3342 holds dog owners liable for all kinds of dog bites, regardless of how minor or severe they are. The dog bit does not even need to puncture your skin to make you eligible for the claim. For instance, say that you were on the property fixing the roof and the dog bit your ankle. The bite may not have pierced your skin, but made you fall from the ladder and suffer a back injury. In such a case, you can hire a California injury lawyer to learn how to proceed and file a lawsuit for recovering compensation.

Is There Any Other Way to Claim Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries?

You can recover damages for your injuries due to a dog bite by filing a personal injury lawsuit as well. This will require you to prove that the dog owner knew or should have known about the viciousness of his/her pet and that he/she was negligent to take adequate measures to prevent the accident. Civil Code 3342 is the easiest way to recover compensation for dog bite cases though.

How is California’s Dog Bite Law Different from “One Bite Rule”?

California Civil Code 3342 is a strict liability statute, which means that the dog owner is liable for the damages caused no matter whether he/she knew about the tendency of the dog to bite or not. Most of the other states in the US have the “one bite rule” for dog bite cases, which makes dog owners liable only if they were aware of the viciousness of their dog.

Can I File a Dog Bite Lawsuit if I Was Bit by a Police Dog?

The California dog bite law does not allow filing a lawsuit against law enforcement animals. As per the Civil Code 3342, you cannot file a dog bite lawsuit “against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency.” However, you may file a dog bite lawsuit against a police or military dog if you were an innocent bystander and were wrongly bitten by the canine.

How Can I Be Partially Responsible for the Dog Bite Injuries?

You cannot file a lawsuit under Civil Code 3342 if you were partially responsible for the dog bite injuries. Comparative fault can be established by the defendant if you harassed, annoyed, provoked, struck, or hurt the dog, which made it bite you. This may reduce the compensation amount you can recover for the injuries.

 

Contact a California personal injury lawyer at Davidovich Stein Law Group today to get a free consultation on your dog bite claim!

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