Lancaster Dog Bite Attorney
A dog bite can cause trauma, pain, fear and physical and emotional scars that last a lifetime. Tens of thousands of dog bites and animal attacks send people to the emergency room in California every year, and these numbers are on the rise. The City of Lancaster has wrestled with the issue of dangerous dogs and vicious animal attacks, even going so far as to enact special ordinances around pit bulls and rottweilers.
If you or a family member has been attacked or bitten by a dog, you likely have significant medical bills to deal with and may also need therapy or other compensation to deal with the harm brought on by this attack. In Lancaster, the dog bite injury lawyers at the Kistler Law Firm are dedicated to getting you the care and compensation you need after a dog bite in Lancaster or the Antelope Valley.
California law holds owners strictly liable for dog bites and animal attacks
Under California Civil Code section 3342(a), dog owners in California are strictly liable for the damages caused when their dog bites a person. Being “strictly liable” means the dog bite victim does not have to prove the owner was negligent in handling the dog. It does not matter whether the dog was on-leash or off-leash or if the owner had any reason to know that the dog might bite. If the attack occurred in a public place or while the victim was lawfully on private property – including the dog owner’s private property – the owner is liable to the victim for the damages caused.
Being lawfully on the owner’s private property includes situations where the victim was expressly invited over by the owner or where there was an implied invitation, for instance if the victim was performing work for the owner on the owner’s property, such as gardening, landscaping or home repair. The law also covers a person on the property to perform a duty imposed by law, such as to read the meter or deliver mail.
Dog owners may still have defenses to dog bite claims
Even though California law is “strict liability” when it comes to dog bites, dog owners may still have defenses against being held liable for an animal attack. The two most common defenses are:
Illegal Acts – The dog bite victim was trespassing on the owner’s property or committing an unlawful act against the owner, such as robbery or assault.
Provocation – The owner (or the owner’s insurance company) may claim the dog was provoked into biting by the victim. Teasing the dog by throwing rocks or poking it with a stick may be examples of provocation, but merely reaching out to pet an animal is unlikely to be seen as provocation in the eyes of the law.
Whether the owner has defenses or not, it is still the responsibility of the victim to prove the owner’s liability in order to recover compensation. Lancaster dog bite lawyers at the Kistler Law Firm have the skills and experience needed to prove the other party’s liability and obtain a fair amount of compensation that covers all your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and other legal damages.
What if it was a friend or neighbor’s dog that attacked me or my child?
It may feel awkward to bring a claim against a friend or neighbor when their dog bites you or a member of your family. Perhaps they didn’t know their dog might bite, and they feel just as horrible about the situation as you do. If that’s the case, they are going to want to see that you are compensated for the attack. You both can rest easy knowing that dog bites are most likely covered by your friend’s homeowner’s insurance policy or other umbrella policy covering all forms of liability. It won’t cost either of you anything to pursue a claim with the insurance company, and the entire process does not have to be hostile or harm your relationship. What’s most important is that you get the care and compensation you need and deserve after a Lancaster dog bite or animal attack.
The City of Lancaster has strict laws regarding pit bulls and rottweilers
In 2009, the city of Lancaster passed Ordinance No. 914, amending several sections of the Lancaster municipal code and requiring a host of rules regarding the ownership of potentially dangerous dogs. These laws include the mandatory spaying or neutering of pit bulls and rottweilers. The new ordinance also requires that such “restricted dogs” are muzzled and leashed when off-property, that they are securely confined on-property in an inspected and approved enclosure, that they receive obedience training, and several other requirements. Owners of pit bulls and rottweilers in Lancaster are further required to carry $300,000 in liability insurance in the event their dog injures someone.
These laws also provide that restricted dogs are subject to being put down if they are trained for fighting or if they cause injury or death. Part of the motivation for Ordinance 914 was to reduce gang activity and the use of vicious dogs by gang members to threaten or bully. A reduction in criminal gang violence and activity was noted after the passage of Ordinance 914.
Call the Kistler Law Firm Attorneys for Help after a Lancaster Dog Bite Injury
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a Lancaster dog bite or animal attack, call the Kistler Law Firm at 661-206-6990. Your consultation is free, and if we can’t recover compensation on your behalf, you won’t owe us any fee.