Most dogs are friendly, lovable family pets. Unfortunately, even dogs that are normally mild-mannered can inexplicably attack people. If you were bitten by someone else’s dog, you may be eligible to file an accident lawsuit in a Riverside-area court. Speak with a lawyer who handles accident cases to find out what you need to do to protect your legal rights and options.
What is strict liability?
California is a strict liability state with regard to dog bite cases. This means that defendants cannot successfully argue that they are not liable because the dog did not have a history of aggressive behavior. Defendants also cannot argue that they took all reasonable precautions to prevent injury to others. Regardless of these factors, the dog’s owner may still be held liable for the plaintiff’s losses.
Does it matter where the incident occurred?
Sometimes, yes. Dog attacks often occur in public places, such as when the owner is walking the dog. In this case, the injured party can usually file an accident lawsuit. If the dog attack occurred on private property, then your accident attorney will need to consider whether you were lawfully on that property. If so, you may have a claim.
Why does California have criminal and civil dog bite laws?
Although the strict liability statute does not require dogs to be considered vicious in order to hold owners liable, California does still have statutes that apply to dangerous and vicious dogs. In this state, a dangerous dog is one that has bitten another person in an unprovoked incident and caused an injury labeled as “non-severe.” A dangerous dog might have injured, bitten, or killed another domestic pet twice within 36 consecutive months while away from the dog’s owner’s property. Two separate acts of aggression toward humans within 36 months while away from the owner’s property also fit this category. A dog that is legally considered vicious has severely injured or killed a person, or is owned by someone with an illegal dog fighting conviction. If the owner of a dog legally considered dangerous or vicious fails to exercise reasonable care and the dog causes serious injuries or death, then the owner may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. However, criminal charges proceed separately from civil accident lawsuits. Even if the owner is facing criminal charges, he or she may still be held liable in civil court.