Data from insurance mega giant State Farm revealed a startling first for California: we’re number one in the number of dog bite injuries with nearly 14 percent of dog bite injuries in the country being reported annually by Californians. State Farm paid out 488 claims totaling $18.7 million in payments in 2017 alone to dog bite victims and their families in the state. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, contact a Los Angeles dog bite attorney right away to file a claim against the responsible party.
Liability and Dog Bites in California
In California, dog bite law is outlined in Section 3342 of the California Civil Code. Under this section, the owner of a dog is liable when damages are caused by a dog bite and the victim was in a public area or lawfully in a private place when the bite occurred.
Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Injuries
California dog bite victims have just two years from the date of the injury to seek compensatory damage from the dog’s owner under California’s statute of limitations. Claims filed after this time period are almost always thrown out of court.
It is important to keep in mind that dog bite laws in California are solely for dog bite injuries. Dogs can cause other injuries; for example, a dog may accidentally scratch someone’s eye when it jumps up on the person in a public park. While this may still be an actionable offense against the owner of the dog (likely for negligence for failing to take a reasonable amount of effort in preventing the accident from occurring), it would fall under a personal injury or premises liability claim instead of a dog bite claim.
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means that the owner is liable regardless of whether he or she knew that the dog could be aggressive. The owner is therefore held liable for all damages that result from the dog bite, even if the dog has never shown aggression or bit someone in the past.
Dog Bite Defense
Some dog owners will raise the question of whether the dog bite victim was trespassing when the dog bite injury occurred. If this is true, then the owner may not be held liable, assuming they can prove the dog bite victim was unlawfully on private property. Similarly, owners of dogs that bite may also attempt to prove that the victim of the dog bite provoked the animal, causing it to bite. Again, the burden of proof would lie on the owner of the dog. Another exception to liability is when a police dog or a dog used by the armed services bites someone while carrying out its duties.
Seeking a Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney’s Help
If you have experienced a dog bite injury, preserve your right to compensation. Consult with a Los Angeles dog bite attorney as soon as possible following your injury. Seasoned attorneys with Compass Law Group, LLP, are well-versed in dog bite statutes and can help you understand the claim process and initiate a claim for you.