In California, Dog Owner Liability Begins As of the First Bite

November 24, 2015 | Category: Personal Injury

When it comes to dog bites, many states follow the one-bite rule, which essentially holds dog owners liable only when their dogs have a prior history of attacks — even if that history involves only one bite. California, however, follows strict liability rules that do not require even a single prior incident to pursue compensation.

Naturally, even these strict standards carry certain exceptions, so it is important to retain a Los Angeles injury lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help protect the rights of dog bite victims.

Key Points of California’s Dog Bite Law

Under Section 3342 of the Civil Code, dog owners or other parties who are responsible for dogs are liable for damages suffered by dog bite victims as long as they are on the property legally. This includes common situations where victims may not realize they have rights, such as the following:

  • Receiving a bite from a formerly friendly dog while visiting the home of a friend
  • Being bitten while working on a contracted repair within the home or yard of a private residence
  • Suffering a dog bite while accessing property unexpectedly, but for legally-permitted reasons, such as meter reading

Exceptions include the following:

  • Military or police dogs attacking in self-defense
  • Dogs that bite after provocation by an adult, or even a child acting on parental instruction
  • Attacks by dogs on adult trespassers

What to Do in the Event of a Dog Bite

Regardless of whether the bite came from a friend's dog or if it initially seems like a relatively minor injury, victims need to follow certain steps to protect their health and their legal rights:

  • Confirm dog vaccinations: Checking the tags on the dog directly is not safe, but it takes only a few moments to ask if the dog's rabies and other vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Seek medical attention: About 20 percent of all dog bites require medical attention, and between 3 and 20 percent of dog bites will become infected. To avoid becoming a statistic, bite victims should err on the side of caution and see a doctor quickly.
  • Closely monitor the wound for complications: The bite may turn out to be only a minor injury, but circumstances can easily change at any time. In addition to possible infections, a dog bite can cause permanent scarring or even loss of full movement to a finger or other body part. An experienced personal injury attorney can offer valuable advice on how to prepare in the event that injuries take a turn for the worse.

In many cases, victims experience no out-of-pocket expenses, assuming that the dog owners pay for an immediate doctor visit. Not every dog bite requires a lawsuit or insurance claim, but it costs nothing to seek legal advice, prepare basic evidence and generally get ready in the event that the injury requires more medical attention at a later date.

For a full range of advice and support, call The Rudman Law Firm APC toll-free at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office (213) 375-3777 or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969. You can also use our convenient online contact form to reach us at any time.

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