A person that keeps or controls an animal should be liable for personal injury or property damage caused by the animal. A keeper of an animal is one that “harbors, protects, or shelters” the animal. It is not necessary that the person is the “owner.” However, an owner who retains some degree of control over an animal can be liable even if the animal is partly under the care of others. Normally, the owner of an animal is liable only for negligence if the animal causes injury or property damage. Negligence is the failure to use ordinary care in keeping or controlling the animal. View statistics about dog bites and injuries.
California Dog Bite Law
California law provides that the owner of a dog is liable for the damages suffered by anyone who is bitten while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property. The fact that a dog does not have prior attacks, or that the owner has no awareness of a dog’s viciousness is not determinative.
The California dog bite statute can impute “strict liability” on the owners of vicious animals. Strict liability means that a person is liable for damages even if the person used ordinary care, and therefore was not negligent in keeping or controlling the animal. The keeper’s liability is said to be absolute in the sense that the gist of the action is not how the animal was kept, but that it was kept at all in light of its dangerous propensities. A plaintiff who can prove the animal’s dangerous nature or trait and the keeper’s “knowledge” of it, need not prove negligence in failing to restrain or confine it. Actual notice is not required. An owner’s knowledge can be “constructive” wherein an owner can be liable if she could have learned of the propensity through reasonable inquiry. Additionally, an owner may be liable if his employees, agents, partners or family knew of the animal’s dangerous propensities.
WHAT EVERY CALIFORNIA DOG OWNER SHOULD KNOW
The latest dog bite statistics show that each year approximately 4.7 million people are bit by a dog in the U.S. There are 62 million dogs in the United States. Contributing to the epidemic of dog bites in America, is the growing preference among Americans for aggressive breeds, such as pit bulls, rottweilers and German Shepherds. Further contributing to the increased frequency of dog attacks, is that dogs are often left home alone, untrained, and unsupervised. Most dog bites and attacks occur when dogs are tied up for long periods of time, or spend most of their time by themselves. A dog’s isolation or lack of interaction results in a dog never being acclimated to strangers, and increases the likelihood of attacks.
A dog owner is liable for every bite his or her dog inflicts on another person. The old law was that an owner was not liable unless the dog had already shown it was likely to hurt someone. However, the law has changed. California law holds owners liable for any harm their dog causes to another person. This is true whether or not the owner believed beforehand that their dog was dangerous. Dog owners are responsible for an injured person’s lost wages, medical expenses, etc. Dog owners can prevent bites by providing adequate attention, care and training. It is important for an owner to train and socialize their dog.
Other animal-related injuries:
- Horses: A stablekeeper must use reasonable care to learn the habits and dispositions of the horses kept for hire. A stablekeeper warrants that the horse is suitable for the particular rider and can be liable for damages if the horse causes injury.
- Cattle: It is the obligation of the property owner of cattle to “fence out” free-running domestic animals to prevent damage to crops and other property.
If you have been injured by an animal, immediately contact Nadrich & Cohen, LLP for a free evaluation of your potential case. Read more about premises liability law.
10 things you can do if you have been injured by a dog or animal
- If you have recently been injured by an animal and have not sought medical attention, you should do so immediately.
- Immediately report your accident to the police and request a copy of the Police Accident Report.
- Try to obtain the name and contact information of the animal owner.
- Try to get the name and contact information of any people who witnessed your accident.
- Try to take photographs of the animal which caused your injuries in the location of the accident.
- Try to take photographs of any visible injuries you have suffered as a result of the incident with the animal or permit our investigator to accomplish this.
- Do not have any communication with the owner of the dog or the owner’s insurance company. If you accept any form of compensation, you may waive your right to claim additional damages.
- Try to save any clothing that may have been damaged by the animal.
- Please save and take photographs of any property damage caused by the animal.
- Contact our law offices for a free evaluation and obtain the services of a very aggressive law firm that specializes in dog bite cases.
It is imperative that you immediately contact an aggressivepersonal injury law firm such as Nadrich & Cohen, LLP. We will protect your rights!
Dog bite lawyers California trusts
The dog bite experts at Nadrich & Cohen, LLP are extremely experienced and successful in obtaining compensation for dog and animal bite victims. We have handled numerous lawsuits against the owners of dogs and have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of dog bite victims. Please immediately contact us by calling us at 1-800-718-4658
We are available 7 days a week and will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours.
- Animal Legal and Historical Center, West’s Annotated California Codes. California Food & Agriculture Code, Division 14, Chapter 9. Chapter 9. Potentially Dangerous and Vicious Dogs, https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ca-dangerous-california-dangerous-dog-statutes
- DogsBite.org, Dog Bite Statistics, http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics.php