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California Auto Accident, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys

Conditions to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in California

by | Feb 10, 2020 | Firm News

Being attacked by a dog is a harrowing experience for anyone. There are few things more terrifying than an animal out of control. Most dogs are tame and polite but dog bites happen from time to time. In the state of California, there is a strict set of laws defining liability in the case of a dog-bite injury. If you intend to file a lawsuit against a dog’s owner for damages or to control a dangerous animal, it’s important that you are aware of these laws and the limitations of filing a case. Certain conditions must be made in order for California’s dog bite liability laws to apply.

Today, we’re here to highlight the conditions you need to file a dog bite lawsuit in California. If your case fits all these conditions, then you may be able to recoup the losses of your medical expenses and identify a potentially dangerous dog to the courts.

You Were Lawfully Located

The first requirement for a dog bite lawsuit in California is the lawful location of the victim. In other words, you need to have legal permission to be in the place where you were bitten. If you were in public or were legally located in a private area, then you may have a legitimate liability claim. However, if you were on private property without legal permission, then the lawsuit will not fly. If the dog’s owners were legally allowed to be on the private property, the defense of trespassing can be used, arguing that the dog was defending private property from an unlawful stranger. There is only a case if you were legally allowed to be in the location where you were bitten.

You Were Bitten By the Dog

The next requirement might sound strange, but you must have been actually bitten by the dog. That means an injury caused by dog teeth on your body or clothes. In California, dog bite law applies strictly to dog bites. Other types of injuries caused by a dog may allow for a charge of owner negligence, but not an actual dog bite case. This is not how it is in all states, but California is very specific. If the dog has bitten you directly, then you can file a dog bite lawsuit. However, if you were injured by the dog’s claws or by being knocked down by the dog, you will need to find a different legal avenue.

The Dog Was Not Working With the Government

You also must keep in mind whether the dog was doing its legally appointed dogs. There are a certain number of dogs that work for the police or the military, government-employed dogs, whose job may include biting the occasional person. Police dogs and military dogs are usually exempt from legal liability cases because it is their job to defend or sometimes attack on the command of their government owners. As long as the government agency employing the dogs has approved written policies and those policies are adhered to, you cannot file a dog bite case against a government-employed dog.

The Dog was Unprovoked

Finally, the dog must have been unprovoked. What this means is that the dog was not given a good reason to bite the person filing suit. The court acknowledges that any dog will bite if tormented or tricked to a certain point. But being tormented does not make a dog dangerous. The accuser may need to prove that they did not provoke the dog to violent behavior immediately prior to the bite.

California is a strict liability state in terms of dog bite owner liability. The owner does not need previous knowledge that the dog was dangerous and the dog does not get multiple strikes before a lawsuit can be filed. If you have been bitten by a dog and your case falls into the previously listed conditions, contact us today. Our law firm can help you build a liability case and seek the damage you need to cover the resulting medical costs.

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