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 Dog Bite Law In California

California Dog Bite Law


 (310) 807-3884 or (213) 855-2226


A Guide to California’s dog bite law

The laws surrounding dog bites can be very hard to understand, they are written in complicated legal jargon and it can be impossible for the everyday person to understand. You need to know exactly what the laws are in case you do get bitten. Perhaps you have already been bitten and are trying to determine what you might be owed and if the dog’s owners can be found at fault. This is a stressful enough time as it is, luckily, this article is here to help. Here you will find a simple, easy to understand, guide to dog bite law in California.

Who is liable?

The owner of the dog is always by default liable for any actions their dog might take. Who else is at fault can become a little tricky in some cases, so here is a breakdown of other people who may also be liable for any damages. If the dog was in the care of a friend, dog walker, or doggy daycare they can also be found at fault. This is only the case if they had prior knowledge that the dog was dangerous. If they had no idea the dog was likely to bite someone, they cannot be found at fault. Additionally, if the owner of the dog’s landlord knew the dog was dangerous and failed to notify the proper authorities and have the dog evicted, they can be found liable if it should attack another person on the property. Or, if it manages to escape. This is why who is liable can start to become unclear and hiring a dog bite attorney becomes so important.

How long do I have to press charges?

The statute of limitations in California for a dog bite is 2 years from the day it happened. This means that if you fail to report it and press charges within two years, your case will be thrown out. This is because proving the dog bit you, when, and whos at fault becomes more and more difficult over time. If you are the person who was bitten, it is advised to press charges as soon as possible.

When is the dog not at fault?

The dog and its owner are not always at fault. Some times, it may the person on the receiving end of the bite who is to blame. If you were to trespass on someone else’s property and their dog bit you, you could be found at fault and lose out on any compensation. Additionally, if you were antagonizing or hurting the dog and it bit you the chances are you will be found at fault here too. If you are a criminal and a police dog bites you, you are also going to be found at fault. Lastly, someone who willingly puts themself at risk of being bitten cannot press charges. This typically applies to vets and vet technicians. They know the risk the job posed when they took it. It can also apply to dog walkers and dog sitters. If they were aware the dog was dangerous and agreed to care for it anyway, then they cant press charges.

What compensation can you seek?

You can seek compensation for all sorts of expenses. It isn’t just the cost of your medical bills and lost wages, you can also receive compensation for pain and suffering or any therapy you feel you might need to help you deal with the ordeal. The knock-on effect of being bitten could last for years. If you find yourself permanently disfigured or disabled in some way, you can seek ongoing compensation. This could be in the form of a one of payment or by the liable person having their wages garnered. This means that a portion of their income each month will go to you.

You can seek a lot of money for criminal damages. You may even find the dog’s owner will receive jail time for the damage they caused you. At the very least, you can expect a substantial cheque. The average settlement for a dog bite in California in 2014 was about $34000. That number has steadily risen since then. How much you get exactly will be largely based on estimated ongoing medical expenses and lost wages. You can even receive a payout if the injury causes you to lose your relationship with a significant other.

What will happen to the dog?

Whether or not you feel the dog is to blame is up to you. That being said, if the dog is found at fault several steps can be taken. First, the dog could be given “probation” of sorts. This is a limitation of how much time it can spend outside, it will be forced to stay at home sometimes indefinitely. When it does leave the house it will need to be on a full-body leash with the muzzle. Perhaps even a shock collar. In some cases, the dog can be taken away to the pound. It can perhaps even get put down, sadly. It is not often the dog who is to blame, it is more likely the owner. That being said, a dog that dangerous is better of being put to sleep in some cases.

When to speak to a lawyer:

It is a good idea to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. A dog bite can be permanently damaging to you if you fail to report it and seek the compensation you deserve, you may find yourself getting nothing. Even if you are at the bare minimum seeking money for the cost of your medical bills, it is still essential you have a lawyer handle this. You may lose your job during the time taken to rehab your injury. Without getting the compensation you need you could lose your car, your house, everything. The risk is too high. Even if you feel bad, the responsible thing to do is ensure that the dog is taken away from the people who have mistreated it. By failing to report a dog bite you are in part responsible for whoever the dog bites next.

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