What Are the Dog Bite Laws in California?
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a strange dog, or even the family pet of someone you know well, understanding your rights and options under California’s dog bit laws is crucial to ensure you get compensation for your medical care, pain and suffering, and other legal damages. Below we attempt to present a quick overview of California dog bite law in a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand fashion to give you the information you need to help you navigate these situations. If you or a family member has been injured from a dog bite or attack by another person’s animal in the Antelope Valley, call Kistler Law Firm to speak with a compassionate and dedicated Lancaster personal injury lawyer.
Strict Liability in California Dog Bite Cases
A key aspect of California’s dog bite legislation is the concept of ‘strict liability.’ Under California Civil Code Section 3342, the owner of a dog is held strictly liable if their dog bites someone, provided that the victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place when the bite occurred. This includes the dog owner’s property, as long as the victim was there legally.
Strict liability is an important legal concept that favors the accident victim. Under strict liability, there is no need to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner. The concept of strict liability relieves the victim of the burden of proving that the dog owner was negligent or that the dog had a history of aggression. When it comes to dog bites, strict liability is the law of the land in California, and exceptions are few and far between. For example, military or police dogs performing their duties are generally exempt.
Comparative Negligence in Dog Bite Incidents
While California’s strict liability rule is clear-cut, there are instances where the concept of comparative negligence may come into play. In some cases, the dog owner may argue that the victim provoked the dog or was otherwise partially responsible for the incident. If proven, this can reduce the amount of compensation the victim is eligible to receive. This should not stop you from pursuing a claim with a skilled attorney who will work to prove the full extent of the owner as opposed to the dog bite victim.
No One-Bite Rule in California
It’s important to note that California does not adhere to the ‘one-bite rule,’ which in some states offers protection to owners if their dog has never bitten anyone before. In California, even if it’s the first incident and the owner had no previous knowledge the dog might act aggressively, the owner can still be held liable.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims in California
For those seeking to file a claim for a dog bite injury in California, it’s crucial to be aware of the statute of limitations. In general, victims have two years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit. Failing to meet this deadline can result in the loss of the right to seek compensation. Contacting a lawyer early on will help ensure important deadlines aren’t missed and will also help you resolve your claim sooner rather than later.
What to Do After a Dog Bite in Lancaster, California
If you or a loved one are bitten by a dog, taking the following steps can be crucial:
- Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority. Dog bites can lead to serious infections and other complications.
- Report the Incident: File a report with local authorities or animal control.
- Document Everything: Take photos of your injuries, gather witness information, and keep a record of medical treatments.
- Consult a Personal Injury Attorney: An experienced lawyer can guide you through the legal process and help ensure that your rights are protected.
How Kistler Law Firm Can Help
At Kistler Law Firm, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll a dog bite can take on victims and their families. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing personalized legal assistance to those affected by dog bites in Lancaster and the Antelope Valley. We navigate the complexities of California’s dog bite laws to seek fair compensation for our clients. Our approach to dog bite cases starts with a thorough investigation. We gather all the necessary evidence and information to build a strong case. When the time is right to settle your case, our experienced team works to negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, we are prepared to represent you in court.
Help With Dog Bite Injuries in Lancaster and the Antelope Valley
Navigating the aftermath of a dog bite can be challenging, but understanding your legal rights in California is the first step toward recovery. At Kistler Law Firm, we are committed to supporting our community in Lancaster and the Antelope Valley through helpful legal guidance and effective representation. If you need assistance with a dog bite case, we invite you to call us at 661-206-6990 for a no-cost consultation.