A Look at Liability Issues Within a Specific Dog Bite Incident

August 31, 2016 | Category: Personal Injury

As a general rule, legal issues surrounding liability in personal injury cases can be open to a great deal of debate. Almost by definition, some form of negligence ultimately causes accidents, but negligence can be on the part of the victim, another party or a combination of people.

California's strict liability law makes dog bite cases different than other personal injury cases. When a dog bites someone, the law almost always views the owner as primarily liable, even though other individuals might share some degree of negligence as well.

A Recent Dog Bite Incident Illustrates Complex Dog Bite Issues

An April 1, 2015 story from ABC News reports that a toddler sustained two facial lacerations from a bull dog owned by her uncle. It is unclear whether the toddler or her uncle and the dog resided in the home. However, a look at some of the key points of the accident illustrates how California's strict liability law (section 3342) is likely to view liability:

  • The dog's history makes no difference: It seems unlikely that adults would leave a toddler alone in the presence of a dog with a history of viciousness. Even if the dog had no history of viciousness, however, the law does not exclude liability on the part of the dog owner.
  • Provocation can be a defense, but not in this case: Perhaps one of the few defenses available to dog owners would involve cases when the victim provokes a dog. Still, this defense does not apply to children who provoke dogs. No matter what the toddler might have done, the owner would remain liable for the incident.
  • The lack of adult supervision might indicate shared liability: Clearly, leaving a toddler alone in a room with a bull dog is an act of negligence. More than one adult was in the house, so questions might arise pertaining to whether at least one adult should have been supervising the child and dog. Even if other adults share some degree of negligence in this regard, CA law still views the dog owner as still ultimately liable.

The dog was quarantined in accordance with California law and, as of the time of the story, it was unclear on whether the owner would regain ownership of the dog. However, these issues are separate and distinct from issues of liability in dog bite injury claims.

Dog Bites From Family Dogs are Still Potentially Expensive

When family pets are involved, family members do not always choose to pursue insurance claims or file civil injury suits. In these cases, it is not unusual dog owners agree to pay all medical expenses out of pocket. Victims agree to this arrangement to help prevent a family member from facing complex legal issues within the state of California.

Regardless of relationship, victims can also face challenges, particularly when the related medical and other expenses exceed the dog owner's ability to pay. Dog bite victims should sustain no personal expenses, even when the injuries were caused by a family pet.

It is not typically necessary to take family members to court in dog bite cases, but there are other available ways to pursue compensation. To learn all available options, call an experienced dog bite lawyer at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office at (213) 375-3777 or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969.

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