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Dog Bite AttorneyWhen a loved one becomes a victim of a dog bite in California, it can be a traumatic experience. Not only is there physical pain and mental anguish, but there can also be a significant amount of medical bills. Our dog bite lawyers have guided countless families through the complex process of proving negligence in dog bite cases. Below, we discuss the essential aspects of California law that pertain to those cases, and what steps you should take if your loved one has suffered such an unfortunate incident.

Strict Liability In Dog Bites: Understanding California Civil Code § 3342

In many states, to claim damages for a dog bite, you might need to prove that the dog owner was negligent or that the dog had a prior history of viciousness. However, California takes a different approach. According to CA Civ Code § 3342, the owner of any dog is liable for damages if someone is bitten by their dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place. This liability is in place regardless of whether the dog had shown previous signs of viciousness or whether the owner knew of any prior viciousness.

The key takeaway here is that California operates under a ‘strict liability’ statute concerning dog bites. In essence, if a dog bites someone, the owner is liable. There are no two ways about it.

Exceptions: When Is The Dog Owner Not Liable?

While the California dog bite law might seem straightforward, there are exceptions where the dog owner is not held liable. Per CA Civ Code § 3342, The law does not apply to governmental agencies using dogs for military or police work in specific situations. For instance, if a dog bites someone while defending itself or assisting in police or military tasks, the agency might not be liable.

The agency’s exemption from liability only stands if they have a written policy concerning the use of the dog, and the victim wasn’t involved in the act that prompted the dog’s use in the first place.

What About Other Animals And Damages To Livestock?

Dog bites on humans aren’t the only incidents covered under California law. CA Civ Code § 3341 details that if a dog, or any other animal, causes harm to livestock (like bovine animals, swine, horses, mules, sheep, etc.) on someone else’s property, the owner of that animal is liable for damages.

Notably, the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the owner knew the dog might harm livestock. Moreover, if someone finds a dog harming livestock on property not owned by the dog’s owner, they’re within their rights to kill the dog without facing any legal consequences.

Steps To Take If Your Loved One Is Bitten By A Dog

Seek Medical Attention

The health and safety of the victim should be the first priority.

Report The Incident

Always report a dog bite to local authorities.

Document Everything

Take pictures of the injuries and the location of the incident. Gather witness statements if possible.

Contact A Personal Injury Attorney

Navigating the legal aspects of a dog bite can be complex. An attorney will help ensure that your loved one receives the compensation they deserve.

Seeking Guidance From Skilled Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

Dog bite laws in California are primarily in favor of the victim. If your loved one has been bitten by a dog, it’s essential to be informed, take the right steps, and consult with a skilled personal injury attorney. Your family doesn’t have to navigate this challenging time alone. Let a qualified personal injury lawyer from The Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates, PC advocate for your rights. 

With multiple offices in Irvine, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our personal injury attorneys represent injured victims across Southern California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 949-727-9300.