Pet owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of other people who encounter their dogs. Even dog lovers understand that not every dog is safe or properly trained, and victims of dog bites may be all too familiar with the potential risks of coming across a dangerous dog.
If a dog bit you because its owner failed to keep you safe, you may have a legal case against the dog owner. The Ventura dog bite lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth can examine your case and help you understand your right to file a lawsuit for dog bite injuries and how much your case might be worth. To schedule a free legal consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
California Personal Injury from Dog Bite Laws
Each state has its own rules regarding dog bite injuries. Some states use strict “one bite” rules to hold owners accountable for any injuries. Other states use looser “two bite” rules where the first bite puts the owner on notice that the dog is dangerous, and the second bite leads to liability. Other states do not use a specific rule, but instead look at the totality of the circumstances.
California uses a strict “one bite” rule under Civil Code § 3342. This statute puts the liability for a dog bite on the owner “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog.” This law has a few important points worth noting:
- The owner is liable for injuries even if the dog had no prior signs of aggression
- The owner is liable for injuries even if they did not know the dog had prior signs of aggression (e.g., if the dog was a rescue)
- This law applies in public places as well as on private property
Under these rules, the owner of a dog is liable to the victim for any damages the bite caused.
If the dog bite occurred on the owner’s private property, the victim can only sue for if they were there legally, similar to a premises liability case. This means that you can sue for dog bite injuries even if you were at the dog owner’s home as long as you were not trespassing. The law includes carrying out postal service duties as a legitimate reason to be on the property, protecting the right of mail carriers to sue for dog bites.
This statute specifically excludes liability for police dogs or other security and enforcement dogs being actively used by the government for police purposes.
Injuries from animals other than dogs can also lead to personal injury lawsuits under a similar theory, though the statute may not apply specifically. If the animal was not a domesticated animal, such as a zoo animal or an exotic pet, the owner may still be strictly liable for the bite or other injuries.
Damages for Dog Bite Injuries in California
If you or a loved one was bitten by a dog in California, the owner should be liable to you for any damages you faced. In instances where you are on good terms with the dog’s owner, it may be simple enough to ask them to pay for the cost of any stitches or doctor’s visits after a minor dog bite, and it may not be worth it to pursue legal action against them. However, cases involving more substantial injuries, medical intervention, pain and suffering, infection, or permanent scarring, you should speak to a lawyer about filing a personal injury lawsuit.
A personal injury lawsuit against a negligent dog owner can recover damages for any harms you faced as a consequence of the dog bite. Especially if you or your child was bitten by a stranger’s dog or suffered serious wounds from the attack you may be entitled to substantial compensation. The damages used to pay you back for the harms you suffered are known as “compensatory” damages and commonly include the following damages:
- The cost of medical bills for stitches, rabies shots, surgery, and other medical care
- Lost wages from work you missed during your recovery and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering you experienced because of the injury
- Plastic surgery to treat scarring
- The suffering of facing permanent scarring or disfigurement
If the dog’s owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s violence but refused to put the animal down, use a muzzle, or take the simple precautions of using a leash, the court may order punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages. The judge can order the defendant to pay you these additional damages to punish them and persuade them to prevent future animal attacks.
Call Our Ventura Personal Injury from Dog Bite Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If you were bitten by a dog and suffered serious injuries, pain and suffering, or scarring, you should speak with one of our Ventura personal injury lawyers for dog bite injuries today. The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth’s injury attorneys can schedule a free consultation with you to discuss your claim and explain what your case might be worth. To schedule your free legal consultation, call our law offices today tat (805) 643-5555.