Getting bit or attacked by a dog is a painful, frightful, and traumatic experience. If you are unfamiliar with California dog bite law, you may be unsure about what your rights are to collect compensation from the dog’s owner for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and any disability or other legal damages you experienced. What if the attack happened in a public place like a park or outdoor restaurant? What if the dog’s owner is a friend or neighbor? Does it matter if the attack happened on your property or the dog owner’s property? We’ll try to answer some of these answers below, so you’ll have a good idea of where you stand. Better still, if you’ve been bitten by a dog in Stockton or Sutter Creek, call the California dog bite lawyers at Redkey Gordon Law Corp at 209-267-1685 for a free consultation on your claims and immediate assistance getting the financial help you need and deserve.
Is it true the dog’s owners are not liable if their dog had never bitten anyone before or acted aggressively and they did not know it might bite?
No, that is not the law in California. California Civil Code section 3342 (a) clearly states that the owners are liable when their dog bites someone “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Does it matter whether or not the dog was on a leash when the attack occurred?
No. Dog owners are “strictly liable” for injuries caused by their animals, so it doesn’t matter whether the owner was exercising care regarding the dog or was negligent when the attack happened.
Does it matter where the attack occurred?
Dog owners are liable for bites that happen when the victim is in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the owner’s property. Being lawfully on the owner’s property would include being invited over with either an express or implied invitation, or on the property performing a legal duty such as delivering mail or reading the meter.
What if the dog’s owner is a good friend of mine? I don’t want to have to sue my friend.
If the attack happened on your friend’s property, any liability of the owner to you will probably be covered by your friend’s homeowner’s insurance policy. Your friend may also have an umbrella policy or other liability coverage that will apply. Your friend probably feels terrible about what happened and wants to see that you are adequately compensated. A covered claim need not cost your friend any money or hurt your relationship. What’s important in any case is that you get the medical treatment you need and are not put out financially for an injury caused by no fault of your own.