A person who keeps or has control of an animal may 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.
LIABILITY OF CALIFORNIA DOG OWNERS
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 does not negate a dog owner’s liability for an attack.
The California dog bite statute can impute “strict liability” on the owner’s 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 aggressive propensity through reasonable inquiry. Additionally, the owner may be liable for his/her employees, agents, partners or family members who knew of the animal’s dangerous propensities.
If you have been injured in any way due to an animal attack, contact the Dog Bite Attorneys of Nadrich & Cohen by calling 1-800-718-4658 or by completing the Free Case Evaluation Form to the right. We are experts in obtaining recovery under all applicable California laws on behalf of dog bite victims. Do not wait. The clock is ticking.
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.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BIT BY A DOG:
- If you have recently been injured by a dog and have not sought medical attention, you should do so immediately.
- Immediately report your accident to Animal Control and request a copy of the Animal Control Report.
- Try to obtain the name and contact information of the dog owner.
- Try to get the name and contact information of any persons who witnessed the attack.
- Try to take photographs of any visible injuries you have suffered as a result of the dog bite.
- Do not have any communication with the dog’s owner or their insurance company. If you accept any form of compensation, you may waive your right to claim additional damages.
- Save any clothing that may have been damaged by the dog during the attack.
- Save and take photographs of any property damage caused by the animal.
- Contact the Dog Bite Attorneys of Nadrich & Cohen for a Free Case Evaluation by calling 1-800-718-4658, or by completing the Free Case Evaluation Form on the right. Call today to ensure that you protect your right to compensation for your injuries.