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Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Monday, February 05, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

Being injured by a dog bite can be a traumatic experience. But unlike other kinds of person injury claims, the laws of liability are often different for dog-bite victims. Most victims in these cases do not sue based on negligence because the majority of states have strict liability laws. In a strict liability state, recovering damages for a dog bite does not involve proving the elements of a negligence claim. Read on to learn about recovery under California’s dog bite laws.

California’s Strict Liability Statute

In California, the owner of a dog is liable for damages if the injury is caused by a dog bite and the victim was bitten in a public place or was lawfully located in a private place. The injury must be the result of a bite and not some other action by the dog. This means that an injury that occurs when a dog jumps on and scratches a person would not be covered under the statute. The victim in this case can pursue his claim under ordinary negligence law.

Strict liability law has some obvious benefits for the victim. The injured party does not need to establish that the owner breached his duty and such breached caused the injuries. Even more importantly, the dog owner cannot defend himself by claiming that the dog had never bitten anyone before or that he was unaware that the dog would behave violently. The owner is liable for all damages resulting from the bite no matter the previous conduct of the dog.

Statute of Limitations

When you are injured through the negligence of another person, the law provides a time period during which you can bring a claim. The statute of limitations for all personal injury claims in California is two years. A dog bite falls under the category of a personal injury claim. If the victim does not pursue his claim within two years from the day the bite occurred, he loses the right to do so in the future.

When Strict Liability Does Not Apply

If you trespass and are bitten by a dog, don’t expect to recover damages under the strict liability rule. Someone who enters another person’s property without consent can only recover, if at all, under traditional negligence laws. The victim would need to show that the owner’s conduct was not reasonable in some way and that this conduct led to the injury. You also cannot recover if you provoked the dog and are injured as a result of the provocation.

If you or a member of your family has been injured by the conduct of another person, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.

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