With a population approaching 40 million residents, it is not surprising that California is a leader in many categories. One of the categories the state leads in is the number of dog bite injuries suffered annually throughout the state. In 2019, California recorded more than 2,300 dog bite injuries that included nine fatalities. With beaches returning to full capacity and neighborhood sidewalks bustling with activity, dog bite injuries should maintain a robust pace as we move through 2021.
The frequency of dog bite injuries in California should motivate residents to ask one question: How do I handle a dog bite injury? The answer to the question includes understanding the requirements that involve suing for a dog bite injury in California.
California and the One-Bite Rule
Some states, such as Texas and Nevada, follow what is referred to in legal circles as the one-bite rule. The one-bite rule gives canines a second chance to make a positive first impression by not considering a dog’s first bite injury. States that follow the one-bite rule make exceptions for certain canine breeds that have earned the reputation for their aggressive behavior. Under the one-bite rule, dog owners cannot be held legally liable for a dog’s first bite injury unless a dog owner knew a dog previously bit another person.
California got rid of the one-bite rule decades ago and in its place, the state adopted a policy of strict liability.
Strict Liability in California
If you suffered a dog bite injury in California, the owner of the canine is most likely responsible for the injury. Known as the strict liability statute, California holds dog owners accountable for dog bites regardless if a dog displayed previous signs of aggression and/or bit another person. It does not matter how minor a dog bite injury is because the owner of the canine is legally liable for the injury.
For example, a minor dog bite incident can trigger psychological trauma that spills over into other areas of a victim’s life. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be an outcome of a dog bite injury, particularly among young children. In California, an owner of a dog that produced a minor dog bite injury is responsible for taking care of all expenses associated with the injury. If you suffered a dog bite injury, no matter the magnitude of the injury, you should contact a California personal injury attorney to determine if suing for a dog bite injury makes financial sense.
The Value of Your Dog Bite Lawsuit
Dog bite lawsuits in 2019 returned on average more than $44,000 for plaintiffs that sued dog owners. Most of the value of a favorable lawsuit outcome derives from the medical expenses required to treat dog bite injuries.
A dog’s super-sharp incisors can cause substantial damage that includes permanent scarring and/or disfigurement. Serious dog bite injuries can lead to emotional scars that last for years, if not a lifetime. Lost wages because of the time it takes to recover from a dog bite injury also plays a role in determining the value of a dog bite injury lawsuit.
How to Prove Strict Liability in a California Dog Bite Lawsuit
Proving liability in a dog bite lawsuit requires you to demonstrate the incident took place because of the negligence of the dog owner. Demonstrating owner negligence starts by proving the defendant owns the dog in question. This involves acquiring a copy of the animal license issued by your community. The dog bite must have happened in a public setting or on private property that the victim was legally allowed to enter. Successful dog bite lawsuits show a dog caused an injury and that a bite was the sole contributor to the development of the injury
Attacked but Not Bitten by a Dog
Sometimes, dogs attack but do not bite. If a dog attacked you but did not bite you, do you have a strong enough case to file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages? The answer is yes, but you have to handle a dog attack with no bite like a standard personal injury lawsuit. Your lawsuit must prove owner negligence by meeting four legal criteria.
First, you have to show the owner of the dog owed the plaintiff a duty of care to prevent the dog from producing any type of injury. Duty of care includes keeping the dog on a leash or maintaining a safe perimeter around the dog owner’s property. The second criterion involves proving the dog owner committed a breach of duty for failing to prevent the dog from attacking the victim. As the third and fourth criteria, you have to show the breach of duty caused your dog attack injury before you prove your injuries generated monetary damages.
Get Legal Support from a California Dog Bite Attorney
Suing for a dog bite injury in California requires a plaintiff to present convincing evidence that a dog bite caused one or more injuries. If you suffered a dog bite injury, you should respond promptly by contacting a California dog bite lawyer. Your lawyer can help you gather and then organize the evidence you need to submit when suing for a dog bite injury in California.