Dogs can make great companions, but a dog bite can be a traumatic (or even fatal) injury event. Unfortunately, such events are not uncommon in California: as recently as 2014, the Los Angeles Times dubbed California the “dog bite capital” of the United States based on the number of insurance claims filed for dog bite-related injuries and losses.
In California, dog owners are held strictly liable for the injuries that these canine companions cause. This does not always mean that dog bite injury victims have an easy time recovering compensation, however.
What Does “Strict Liability” Mean?
In some states, dog owners are only held responsible for the injuries and harm caused by their dog if the owner “knows or has reason to know” of the dog’s vicious or destructive tendencies. In these states, dog owners are said to have “one free bite” before they are held legally responsible for dog bite injuries: this is because a dog owner generally does not have reason to know that his or her dog is aggressive until after the dog has attacked at least one person.
This is not the case in California: in other words, dog owners in California do not get “one free bite.” California law holds that the owner of a dog is held responsible for any harm or injury that the dog may cause, even if the dog has never attacked anyone previously and/or the dog owner has no reason to suspect his or her dog is vicious or aggressive.
Strict Liability Does Not Guarantee Recovery
This does not mean a person injured by a dog’s bite will automatically receive compensation for his or her injuries, however. A bite from a stray dog or a dog whose owner cannot be identified may not result in any compensation as there is no one who can be identified and held to account. Similarly, California’s strict liability dog bite laws will not allow compensation to be awarded to someone who antagonized the dog prior to the dog’s attack, including individuals who trespass on the private property of others.
When to Contact a California Dog Bite Lawyer
Many victims of dog bites are young children: dog bite attacks of children, or any dog bite to the face, neck, or other vulnerable area of the body should be treated at the local emergency room right away. As soon as possible, though, you and/or your loved one should contact Case Barnett Law for legal assistance and direction. Taking swift legal action after a dog bite helps ensure the dog responsible for your injuries – as well as the dog’s owner – can be promptly located. Case Barnett Law’s team of dedicated personal injury attorneys will also examine the attendant facts and circumstances of your case so that you can understand your rights and to what compensation you may be entitled.
Contact your Orange County dog bite lawyers today by calling Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or by completing the firm’s online contact form.