Man's best friend is often just that: a great companion. Although there are many times that a family pet is a wonderful addition that brings joy to both the family that owns the dog and others who visit, there are times that are not as joyous.
There are times when a dog bites.
What's a victim to do? Those who are the victims of a dog bite likely have a number of questions, including when an owner is held responsible for the dog's actions and whether or not there are any exceptions.
Having the answers to these questions can help you decide how to proceed.
When does California state law hold a dog owner liable for a dog bite accident? California law states:
The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.
So, basically, as long as you are not breaking into the person's home or otherwise unlawfully on the owner's property, the dog owner is likely liable for any injuries that result from a dog attack. This is true whether to dog was known to be vicious or had no prior issues.
Are there any exceptions or grey areas? Like most legal matters, there are caveats. One involves postal workers. The law specifically states that postal service workers are lawfully on the property. As a result, a dog owner would likely be liable for a dog bite injury to a postal worker.
The law also states that dogs used in the service of police are generally exempt from liability. This is especially true if the canine is in the process of investigating a crime, executing a warrant, defending a police officer or holding a suspect.
Back to the first question - what's a victim to do? Once questions about liability are considered it may become apparent that the dog owner is responsible for the injuries suffered from a dog attack. If this is the case, the victim can pursue a personal injury claim through an area of law referred to as premises liability.
This can lead to monetary awards that can help cover the costs associated with the accident. Such costs may include medical treatment, rehabilitative treatments, medications, lost wages and future physical therapy costs.
If pursuing a suit, it is often wise to contact an experienced California dog bite injury attorney. This legal professional will review the details of your case and guide you through the process, working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.