“Dog Bite Accidents In California – “Man’s Best Friend”
Stipp Law Firm, APC is a San Diego County dog bite law firm. When you contact us, you will be consult with an experienced dog bite lawyer. While dogs might be “man’s best friend,” our lovable companions and the protectors of our homes, they can also be unpredictable at times. Even the most unsuspecting dogs can attack or bite without prior warning. Of course, there are also certain breeds that are more likely to bite, such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Akitas, to name a few.
Dog bites can cause serious injury, scarring, emotional trauma, disfigurement, infection, broken bones, torn tendons and even death. What is most scary about dog bite injuries is that our children are most susceptible. They are low to the ground, tend to be rough with dogs and sometimes make noises that irritate or confuse dogs. Many times it is our neighbors’ dogs that bite our children while they are playing.
Fortunately, the California legislature is aware of the risk dogs can pose and have enacted strict laws to protect victims of dog bites. Specifically, California is a “strict liability” state, which means that if you own a dog and it bites another person, you are liable, even if you took reasonable steps to ensure the dog would not bite someone. Even businesses, corporations and government entities can be considered “owners” and be found strictly liable for dog bite injuries (for example – store watch dogs).
If the person you believe is responsible for the dog bite is not the actual dog owner, that person can still be found responsible for your injuries if he/she was negligent. Land owners and store owners that possess, keep, harbor and control dogs have a duty to act reasonable, so that you are not injured by dogs on their property. A common example is where someone is bitten on property leased by the dog owner. In this situation, most times the dog owner will not have insurance to cover your injuries, even if the owner was negligent. However, the landlord can be held liable for your injuries if the landlord knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities, had the ability to control or prevent the harm, yet failed to do so.
If the landlord and tenant have an agreement where the landlord can still use the property on a regular basis during the tenant’s lease, then not only can the landlord be liable if he/she knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities, but also if the landlord should have known.
Similarly, where the attack takes place on commercial property (like a store) and the commercial property owner is not the owner of the dog, the commercial property owner can be liable for the victim’s injuries if he/she knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities and failed to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of its guests.
There are also local laws and ordinances that protect the public from harm from dogs. At a minimum, all communities have leash laws that require dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash when the dog is out in public. These laws vary from community to community, but are almost always useful when evaluating whether a dog owner or property owner failed to live up to their responsibility to prevent dog bites.