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Who Is Liable If a Dog Bites Someone?

California law imposes strict liability on a dog’s owner for injuries when his or her dog bites someone. The application of this strict liability rule is not always straightforward, and it is subject to a small number of exceptions.

Dog bite lawyer Sean Salamati in Los Angeles has the knowledge and experience to help victims that have suffered injuries from dog bites and other animal attacks to recover full damages from the party or parties responsible for controlling and restraining the dog.

What Is the California Law on Dog Bites?

Section 3342 of the California Civil Code specifies that a dog’s owner is strictly liable for injuries that a person suffers from a dog bite. This code section applies to any victim that is bitten by a dog in a public place and when the victim is lawfully on private property, including the dog owner’s property. This law imposes liability on the dog’s owner regardless of whether the dog has previously demonstrated any dangerous or vicious propensities. 

Are There Exceptions to California’s Dog Bite Liability Law?

A dog’s owner may be excused from liability under certain limited exceptions:

  • If the victim is a trespasser or is otherwise not lawfully on a dog owner’s property, the owner may be excused from liability;
  • If the victim provoked the dog or ignored clear warnings to avoid the dog, the owner may similarly be excused;
  • An owner will generally not be liable if a dog bites a veterinarian and some other animal welfare and treatment specialists during the course of an examination;
  • Police or military personnel are excused from liability when their service dogs bite during valid operations.

How Can a California Dog Bite or Dog Attack Victim Recover Damages for Injuries?   

The California statute is not limited to injuries caused by dog bites but encompasses other injuries that might occur, for example, when a dog knocks over or causes another person to fall, or pushes an object over that then strikes and injures that person.

In these circumstances and dog bite cases, the injured party has two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for his or her injuries.

California is a strict liability state for dog bite injuries, and the owner will be presumed to bear liability for the injuries. Nonetheless, the owner can argue that the victim was not authorized to be on the owner’s property, or that the victim provoked the animal or ignored warnings to stay away from it. A knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney will be best able to overcome these defenses when a lawsuit is filed as soon as possible after a dog bite or animal altercation when all facts and witness memories are still fresh.     

What Should You Do if You Are Bitten by a Dog?

As with other injuries that you might suffer, you should never ignore a dog bite injury. If you can, you should first identify and gather as much information about the dog and its owner as you can, including contact information and license and rabies vaccine records for the dog.

Take pictures of the injuries and where the dog bite occurred. Sterilize any wounds with soap and water and get medical attention, including emergency room treatment if necessary, and save all medical records and bills.

Contact your local California animal control officials or the police to report the injury  

Call the Salamati Law Firm If You Were Injured by a Dog

After you have treated your wounds and reported the dog bite incident, please see call the Salamati Law Firm to speak with a Los Angeles dog bite lawyer for a no-fee consultation. Sean Salamati represents clients in Los Angeles and throughout southern California that have experienced serious injuries from dog and animal encounters. We will fight to recover the damages you deserve for your losses and injuries. You owe us no money unless we recover compensation on your behalf!

No Obligation, No Fees Guaranteed, Unless We Win

We are committed to negotiate your case aggressively, strategically and creatively. Personal injury lawsuits are retained on a contingency fee agreement, and plaintiffs will pay no legal fees unless the firm is able to recover damages on your behalf.

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