California Dog Bites Injury Law
California Dog Bites: What Laws Protect Victims?
When you’ve been bitten by a dog, it’s important to know what laws protect you. Steve Recordon, a California attorney with nearly 30 years of experience whose practice represents individuals who have been injured by dog bites, explained what laws protect victims and some exceptions to those laws.
What laws protect dog bite victims?
Recordon told us that, in California, Civil Code section 3342 – which is a strict liability code section, protects dog bite victims. He explained, “The other states dealing with what is known as the ‘one bite’ or ‘first bite’ rule (where dog owners generally are not held strictly liable for the first time their dog bites someone) are going to have negligence statutes, although many states, including California, have both. Normally, an attorney with a choice between the two will go with the strict liability statute. It’s a much easier statute to prove and I believe, because of that statute, you have the upper hand with the insurance companies when it comes to dealing with claims.”
Exceptions to the law
There may be exceptions to the law for the victims that may have been negligent. Recordon explained, “It’s usually not something minor that’s going to be an exception to the law. Situations where teenagers are trespassing and taunting a chained dog by throwing rocks at it would be an example – anything where the person was intentionally trying to aggravate the dog would be exceptions. So, if that activity occurs and they get bitten as a result, they are going to be partially at fault.” He provided the following example in which trespassing might or might not work:
I had a client who was quite familiar with the dog next door. He’d been over to the house many times, seen the dog outside the house, petted the dog and dealt with the dog on a one-to-one basis a number of times.
One day, his neighbor’s sprinklers were on. They’d been on all day and were flooding the back yard. So, he actually trespassed and climbed over the fence to turn off the water when the dog attacked him and he was severely injured.
In that case, the insurance company, eventually but reluctantly, paid on the claim. Although they asserted the trespass defense, my argument was that the trespass was for the benefit of the homeowner and therefore, the homeowner had to face up to the fact that the dog bit his neighbor.
If you’ve been injured due to a dog bite, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. To speak with an experienced attorney, please click here.
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