In California, No Dog Gets a Free Bite at Your Expense
California law has provisions governing both what happens to dogs who have attacked someone, and also what rights are available to those who are attacked.
May 16, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- We all know the old saying "every dog has his day." It might also be fair to say that under California law, "every dog has his day in court."
That's not literally true--dogs do not actually appear in court. However, California state law gives counties and municipalities the power to conduct what amounts to "dog court" to determine what should be done in dog bite cases when the dog has bitten a person on more than one occasion (or, in the case of dogs that have been trained to attack, on just one occasion). The court may issue any order it deems appropriate to deal with the dog, including putting the dog down.
A recent story out of the Modesto area illustrates this. A young woman was attacked by a neighbor's German Shepherd while visiting the home of an elderly friend. The dog in question has reportedly attacked people before, but none of the attacks were documented, so the local officials are not proceeding with legal action against the dog and its owner. This is despite calls from the woman who was attacked for local officials to put down the dog, which she feels is dangerous.
Although California law does not require that such a dog be put down unless there have been other incidents, the laws are different when it comes to civil lawsuits against dog owners. In a civil case, a person injured by a dog may sue the dog owner for damages. Unlike the laws that govern what happens to the dog, in a civil suit against the dog owner, there is no requirement that the dog must have bitten someone previously.
Some states require that the dog be shown to have a history of violence before their owner can be sued, but in California, owners are "strictly liable" for the behavior of their dogs, regardless of whether they knew their dog was dangerous because of a previous incident.
Dog owners who are sued for the injuries their dogs cause are generally covered by their homeowner's insurance. In fact, more than a third of all homeowner's insurance claims are from dog bite incidents, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
This is not the case for many owners that live in apartments or rental properties who do not have a homeowner's policy that covers for dog bites. However, if the owner of the apartment building knows that his tenant's dog is dangerous and has previously bitten people, in many cases, the apartment owner can be held liable for any damages the dog causes.
If you are injured by a dog, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, who can help investigate the circumstances surrounding the dog bite. This will help you protect your rights, and could also protect others from further attacks by the same dog.
Article provided by The Law Offices of Kottler & Kottler
Visit us at www.kottlerlaw.com
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