What Does California Law Say In Regards to Dog Bites and Animal Attacks?
California is a Strict Liability state. This means that an injured person from a dog bite or animal attack does not have to prove negligence; i.e. that the owner of the attacking dog or animal did not control his or her dog/animal. Rather, all the injured person needs to show is that the bite or injury occurred resulting in damages. The only defense to a dog bite in California is for the owner of the dog to assert the injured victim "assumed the risk" of the dog or animal bite. Despite this, the courts of California have made it clear that responsibility of dog bites and animal attacks rest solely on the owner. This is why owners of dogs must be diligent in making sure they have control of their pets when they are out in public.
What can a Plaintiff sue for in a Dog Bite Case?
A Plaintiff may sue and recover for past, current, and future medical bills, past, current, or future cosmetic surgery (for scarring, etc.), lost wages, and of course general damages (known as pain and suffering). If the case moves to trial, animal experts can be employed to give testimony on dog behavior or specific animal characteristics. Testimony for lost wages from employment may also be employed if necessary.
What can a Person do if they want to know about any dangerous dogs or animals in their neighborhood?
First, one can find out if there is a dangerous dog, or a dog or animal that is prone to biting or attacking by asking the following three groups of persons in their neighborhood or community:
1. You can ask the children of your neighborhood about any suspicious dogs or animals; unfortunately, statistics show children tend to be higher risk for dog bites, or animal attacks;
2. You can ask the adult neighbors in your neighborhood;
3. I always tell my clients to ask the Postman about any dogs that are dangerous; he or she are most of the time the best person to ask about any dogs that are likely to bite in your neighborhood.
If there is a problem you can call your local Animal Control and they can send you information on what to do if you suspect a dangerous dog in your community.
What Dogs are considered dangerous and prone to attacking or biting?
Some insurance companies have "black listed" certain breeds of dogs due to the high cost of liability claims because of the sheer strength of their jaws, the following are three dog breeds that are considered inherently dangerous:
1. Pit Bulls; (this is generally a fearless dog that will lock its powerful jaws into prey until it is dead);
2. Rottweilers; (this dog breed is known to be aggressive, and have very keen territorial instincts and are usually sought after to be guard dogs);
3. Bullmastiffs; (this dog breed is very large and powerful, and is known for being friendly yet at the same time, they can be uncontrollable)
Additional resources provided by the author
San Diego County Animal Services
San Diego Humane Socitey and SPCA
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