Understanding California’s Dog Bite Laws - Adamson Ahdoot LLP

Understanding California’s Dog Bite Laws

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, own a dog, or work with dogs, you may have noticed that California’s dog bite laws differ from other states. Unlike some states, California imposes “strict liability” on dog owners. We’ll explain what strict liability means below and, hopefully, give you a clear understanding of how the law works for victims of dog bites or attacks.

What Does Strict Liability Mean?

Simply put, strict liability makes pet owners responsible for the damages associated with a dog bite, regardless of the dog’s history or the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s history. A victim doesn’t have to prove a pet owner acted negligently to get compensation in a lawsuit. A victim just must prove they were bitten.

As with most laws, there are some exceptions. Strict liability only applies if the victim was bitten. And, according to the law, a dog does not have to break skin in order for it to be considered a bite. Other types of injuries sustained by a victim of a dog attack do not fall under this statute.

It’s important to note it may still be possible to file a lawsuit against the owner of a dog even if you or a loved one suffered another type of injury. Contact Adamson Ahdoot LLP right away to discuss the circumstances surrounding your case. After hearing your story, we’ll be able to tell you if filing a lawsuit is within your legal rights.

Some of the other notable exceptions to California’s strict liability laws are:

Trespassing – if a victim was trespassing, the law does not apply. A victim must have been on public property or lawfully on private property for strict liability to stand.

Military or police dogs – military and police agencies are not held to strict liability if a dog bites or attacks a person while carrying out duties as a police or military animal.

Provocation – a victim does not have the ability to take legal action if he or she provoked or harassed the dog prior to being bit.

How Does Strict Liability Differ From the “One Bite” Rule?

In some states, the “one-bite” rule applies legally when a dog bites. This law states the owner of a dog is liable for injuries sustained by a dog only if the owner knew the dog had aggressive tendencies. The one-bite rule was once the standard for every state, but now, only about 14 states still use this statute. Some states, like New York, have what’s called “mixed dog bite” laws. These states basically embody the one bite rule, but, have some type of strict liability for dog owners.

Although strict liability does not require a victim to prove negligence, navigating the nuances of this law requires experience and vast resources. The Los Angeles dog bite injury lawyers at Adamson Ahdoot LLP have years of experience litigating challenging cases and work with the best forensic experts to prove your claims.

What to Do After Suffering a Dog Bite Injury

As lovable as a dog may seem, it’s still a pack animal with strong instincts and the ability to inflict serious injury with a bite. Reportedly, some dogs have the ability to bite with a force of more than 700 PSI (pounds per square inch). The average PSI force of a human bite is about 160.

Types of injuries frequently associated with dog bites and attacks include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations and cuts
  • Bruises
  • Infection
  • Amputation (limb loss)
  • Concussions
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Head injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Wrongful death

If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite injury, we strongly recommend you:

Call a doctor right away. Don’t delay in getting treatment for your injury. Waiting to see a doctor may make your injury worse and affect the credibility of your case.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations and treatment plan. Don’t miss follow-up appointments, as your care depends on reliable treatment. Work with your doctor to ensure a successful recovery.

Don’t talk to anyone about the incident unless it’s with your attorney. Unfortunately, any information you provide to opposing insurance agents or even your friends and family may be used against you during negotiations.

Talk to a qualified dog bite attorney as soon as possible. At Adamson Ahdoot LLP, our legal team won’t waste any time getting you on the right legal path. Even if we can’t help you, we’ll tell you where you may be able to get help.

There is Only So Much Time to Take Legal Action

Per state guidelines, victims only have so much time to take legal action. In most cases, victims have two years from the date an injury was sustained to file a lawsuit.

Why put your ability to collect compensation at risk? You deserve a fair settlement to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, emotional distress, physical pain, and other types of damages. At Adamson Ahdoot, we offer free consultations and work on a no-win, no-fee basis.

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Our team can better advise you on your legal options once we receive any available evidence about the incident.

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