It depends upon where the dog was located. If the dog was in your own backyard and did not show vicious propensities under California law you may not have liability. If in a public area then probably. Your defense essentially would be based upon compartive negligence. You need to turn the claim over to your insurance company who will provide you with a defense.
If you don't have insurance then you will need to consult legal counsel you cannot ignore a complaint. Your default could be taken and judgement entered against you.
You need an attorney or your insurance company involved sooner than later.
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I think the mailman will have a difficult time. If served report to your carrier [home owners or renter]
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Please turn your case to your insurance company. Do not worry a bit. You will not lose your assets. Your insurance will defend you. Best of luck.
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The reason you carry homeowners insurance is just for this reason. It doesn't sound like a very strong case, but let your homeowners defend and deal with it.
Hopefully you have homeowners insurance to protect you against any potential claim. The ultimate outcome will depend on the facts and what each of you can prove.
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Report it to your carrier. That's what insurance is for. What follows is based on New York law, but I think these principles are fairly universal. Assuming there is no viscous propensity, as I read this, the mailman first encroached upon your dog's territory putting the dog in a defensive posture and then the mailman attacked the dog with two canisters of pepper spray. The dog did what an attacked animal will do--it fought back. By my reckoning, the dog was justified in counter attacking. If your account is accurate (some of your facts are inferred or assumed) your mailman will have a hard time making out a case.
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This does not seem like much of a claim if it is ever filed. If you have homeowners or renters insurance any claim should be covered. Again, this mailman may never bring a claim and while it is a good idea to notify your insurance carrier of the incident, sometimes these companies will not renew your policy unless you get rid of the dog.
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Turn it over to your insurance carrier.
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All of these attorneys have given you good information. I would only add that it sounds like your dog did a good job protecting you from the creepy mailman.
In addition to the excellent advice given you by my colleagues: The sexual harassment is no more than flavour here. Your dog needs to be maintained so that the mail delivery persons can safely access your mailbox no ifs, and, or buts; I cannot tell if that was the case after the gate was closed.
As others have wisely advised, put your homeowner's insurance on notice ASAP. Don't delay on that. Although it depends on the terms of your policy and CA law, the insurance company typically assigns an attorney to defend you. Additionally, given the witness observation, you may want to file a grievance with the local post office. While the carrier may not like dogs, he should not be pepper spraying them without grounds, and he is placing himself in harms' way by doing so However, do not take any such action until you consult with the attorney assigned to defend you in the caase. Best of luck.
How can you protect yourself? If you have homeowner's insurance, you should contact your insurance company immediately. They likely have a duty to defend you in this action and may have a duty to pay any judgment rendered against you up to the policy limits. If not, you need to contact an attorney to represent you against the action.
How much can the mailman get? That is hard to determine. He will try to collect damages for whatever medical expenses he has incurred and paid for as well as pain and suffering. If he simply received stitches, his recovery will be a lot less than if the bite caused damage to a nerve or tendon resulting in surgery. Without knowing the extent of his injuries, it is hard to predict.
Hope this helps. Good Luck,
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