In California, under California Civil Code Section 3342, “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog” while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, which may include the property of the dog owner. This statute applies regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s behavior.
Unlike most states which offer protection to owners of dogs with a “one bite rule,” California imposes a strict liability on dog owners. In other states, owners are protected from liability for the first bite if the dog’s owner was unaware of the dog’s vicious tendencies. California’s strict liability statute imposes a duty of care on every dog owner to prevent his or her dog from biting any person and prevents dogs from becoming a danger to the community.
A victim of a dog bite may recover compensatory damages for injuries, including, but not limited to: medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, scarring, loss of the use of a limb, therapy and counseling. If a family member has died as a result of a dog bite, families may be able to recover damages for wrongful death or loss of consortium.
If you find yourself in a situation where you may be facing liability for injuries suffered by another, or you are a victim of a dog bite then it is important you know your rights. In either of these situations consider contacting the appropriate legal advice so that you are able to get help in understanding your legal rights.
Authored by Scott D. McDonald, Esq.
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