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Personal Injury Blog

Animal Attacks and Liability: How to Protect People and Pets

Saturday, September 19, 2020

We all love our pets. As members of our family, our furry friends need to be looked after and cared for similar to children. However, one fairly obvious difference here would be in liability when it comes to animals attacking someone. While we'd never want to imagine that our pet could cause harm to another person or animal, not considering this is often what leads to these situations in the first place. Instead of waiting until it's too late, learn how to protect people and pets from lashing out and injuring someone as well as what kind of things you would be liable for under the law.


Bites are typically one of the things you'll most often encounter when it comes to animal attacks and liability law, especially with dogs. In the state of California, dog bite laws are somewhat limited by design. Specifically, they only cover dog bites and not other forms of injury by an animal, though this can factor into the case or other charges. In order to be charged on behalf of a dog that's bitten someone, you must either be the legal owner of the animal or be a caretaker with proper and provable foreknowledge of the animal's ability to harm someone (in other words, the owner must have told you the dog is prone to biting or is aggressive prior to putting you in charge).

What's Covered?

While it may sound cut and dry, there are various situations where a dog biting or attacking someone will lead to legal action and situations where it will not. For the former scenarios, you have fairly unambiguous situations like your dog escaping from your yard or out of your grip and attacking someone without provocation. Other situations where you would not be protected when your dog bites would be scenarios in which the other party interacted with your animal but did not show any aggression or ignore your dog's own aggression. Attempting to pet an animal, walking in the direction of an animal, feeding an animal, and similar situations are examples of this. The bitten party is also not said to have assumed the risk of interacting with an animal if they have done so in the past with no obvious signs of danger from that animal, such as having played with your dog in the past without injury.

What's Not Covered?

There are several situations where a dog biting or harming someone will not be grounds for legal action against the dog's owner. For example, someone who trains dogs, especially guard dogs, is said to assume the risk of being attacked by purposefully putting themselves in the situation of confronting dogs in an aggressive manner. Additionally, actions that result in being attacked by a dog that involve trespassing to reach the animal or were the direct result of ignoring signs of aggression or danger from the animal prior to the attack frequently come back to bite the plaintiff, as judges have ruled that the person bitten assumed the risk of the attack by knowingly ignoring these signs and/or breaking the law to put themselves in the situation of being attacked.

Avoiding the Situation

Whether you know a situation where your dog has bitten someone would be legally justified or not, you naturally want to avoid these kinds of situations in the first place. The easiest way to do this is to simply keep your dog under supervision and control at all times while you're out together. An appropriately-sized leash of no more than six feet is a good starting point. You also shouldn't put your animal in the care of someone else unless you know them to be trustworthy and know that they understand and can handle the risks associated with taking responsibility for your pet.

Summing Up

Overall, protecting yourself, your animal, and others is a crucial part of having a pet. Practice good common sense and stay aware of what your animal is doing when you're together, and remember the different situations that can arise based on how a dog bite occurs. For more information on dog bite laws and other legal help, contact Freeman & Freeman today.

Conditions to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in California

Monday, February 10, 2020

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.

Can an Animal Rescue Be Liable For a Dog Bite?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

When it comes to the city or state-run animal control, their business is to take dangerous animals off the street to prevent various issues, namely animal attacks. However, you also have groups working independently of the government to re-home dogs and other animals found on the street or in neglectful situations. These groups have the benefit of being able to place dogs and other animals with loving homes and also removing them from shelters in which, if not adopted in a certain amount of time, they will be euthanized.

Dog Bites

Unfortunately, while dangerous animals can be rehabilitated in many cases, it takes time to do so. During this time, there is the potential that they could lash out violently and hurt someone. If you were the victim of a dog bite by an animal that was under the care of an animal rescue group, can you hold those groups liable for the attack?

The answer, in most cases, is yes. As there is always the potential for any dog to bite someone this means that rescue groups need to take the time to protect themselves from what could very well be not a possibility, but an eventuality. In the larger animal rescue group, you will find that they have insurance to protect the group in case of an animal bite. If a dog bites someone, whether it is a worker or someone looking to adopt a dog, the insurance will be there to pay for the medical bills of the victim. However, if you are dealing with smaller animal rescue groups, they may not have the insurance, but you still retain the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Who's Liable?

While you maintain the right to pursue a personal injury suit against an animal rescue group, you must also realize the certain reality of doing so. Animal rescues, particularly small ones, run on a limited budget. Typically, this is the reason they did not have insurance in the first place. Often one bite and the impending lawsuit will unravel the organization. For some, they may choose not to pursue a lawsuit because it would likely mean the end of that particular rescue. However, dog bites can be more than just simply bites. They can be vicious attacks that require extended medical treatment, even plastic surgery to rectify. In these cases, there is no question who should come first – the victim.

Personal Injury

A personal injury suit against a group is much like a personal injury suit against an individual. You must first prove that the organization was liable for the injury. If the animal had attacked you on the animal rescue's property, they had the responsibility for making sure it was secured. However, it needs to be proved that you did not actively provoke the animal either. As they were harboring the animal, the organization has the responsibility to actively work to prevent attacks.

As for who to file the personal injury lawsuit against, you may not be filing it against the animal rescue group as a whole. Often these groups work on donations and have very little if any, profits from it. Instead of filing against the group as a whole, it is likely you will be filing the personal injury lawsuit against the person in charge of the group such as a leader or a founder. This is generally why many animal rescue groups insist they have insurance because a personal injury lawsuit against an individual is damaging financially.

If you have been bitten by a dog, whether it was held by an animal rescue group or just a private owner, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help get you the compensation you deserve for your injury.

Do Dog Walkers Have Liability For Dog Bites?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Dog Bite Injuries

When it comes to dog bite injuries, most worry about negligent owners with their poorly monitored dogs or even stray dogs doing the biting. However, while both situations can result in dog bites, there is a situation that can be even more common – a dog bite in the care of a dog walker. If your occasionally aggressive dog is inside your home, they are at a much lower risk for having a dog bite incident, obviously. However, that risk goes up exponentially if you have a dog walker take them out for some exercise. Not only is the dog walker at potential risk for getting bit, but anyone else is as well. However, who holds the liability in a dog bite incident when they were with a dog walker?

Dog Walkers and Dog Bites

When it comes to dog bites and dog walkers, typically the dog walker will not have any liability in these incidents. Whether you are using a legitimate dog walker or just a neighborhood kid, the blame will almost always come back to you, the owner. You may note that when choosing a legitimate dog walking service, you will have to sign certain liability forms.

These forms will state that the dog walker and the dog walking service will hold no liability in the event of a dog attack. Typically there are certain clauses within this form to protect the owner as well. For example, if the dog walker specifically antagonized the dog so that it did attack the walker or another person, they can still be held liable for that negligent action instead of the blame still going to the owner.


While having insurance to protect the company and walker is recommended for all dog walkers, if you choose to have your pooch walked by a small company, they may not have insurance to cover them.  In this case, the person who is walking the dog may be held liable for its actions under a keeper or harborer clause. Under this clause, it states that if the dog is under the care of another – their keeper - then that keeper is liable for the dog's action, not the owner. This law is frequently used in dog sitting incidents, but it can be applicable to dog walkers as well if they are not covered by insurance.

If you have an aggressive dog, it may be best to not use a dog walker just to avoid any potential incidents. However, the fact remains that dogs need exercise and sometimes an aggressive dog is just an overly bored dog that needs more fitness. If you have a dog that you think might bite, it is best to notify the dog walker beforehand. In this regard, they can take the proper preventative measures. This might mean your dog walking service won't agree to walk your dog, which is within their right. However, more likely, it means that the dog walker will be more aware of your dog's behavior or need to walk them with a muzzle on. Either way, having a dog walker know that your dog might be aggressive is the first and most effective step to preventing dog bite accidents.

If you have been bitten by a dog, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman and Freeman is dedicated to helping make sure that victims get the justice they deserve. Dog bites can be both horrific and traumatic injuries and they deserve compensation so you don't end up paying hundreds of dollars in medical bills that were not your fault, but the fault of a negligent individual who didn't know they had an aggressive dog that was prone to biting.

Mistakes to Avoid if Bitten by a Dog

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Los Angeles dog bite lawyer

While not often highlighted by the media, dog bites are extremely common. Among the average citizen, a dog bite is most common among postal workers and children, but it can happen to anyone that has an encounter with a dog that they do not know, or even sometimes with a dog they have known for years. However, regardless of the how or why you are bitten by a dog, you may be able to pursue a personal injury case to receive compensation for your injuries. However, you will also want to make sure your case is as strong as possible. As such, there are certain mistakes you will want to avoid so they don't hurt your case or make it harder than it needs to be to get the compensation that you deserve.

Not Seeking Medical Treatment

Some dog bite injuries might be something you can walk away from. However, by failing to seek medical attention, it makes your injury seem less serious and it can make proving your case in the future difficult. The biggest complication you will face from this mistake is the injury worsening from infection. A dog's mouth is home to a myriad of bacteria that can make a minor wound have major problems if not treated. If you failed to seek medical attention, it could be argued that you caused it to get infected with your inaction and you could be stuck with the bills.

Not Photographing Injuries

Alongside not getting immediate medical treatment, you should also avoid not photographing your injuries. By the time your legal case progresses, it is likely your injuries will have healed quite a bit. It will make some people unsympathetic to your plight, but if you have photos of just how bad you got hurt, it serves as both proof and persuasive evidence that you need to receive compensation.

Not Reporting a Dog Bite

After a dog bite incident, it is likely you will be fairly rattled. However, do not forget to make a report of the incident to the proper authorities such as police or animal control. These authorities allow for the incident to be well documented and will take measures to ensure it doesn't happen to anyone else. Never believe a dog owner that begs you not to report and promises to repay your medical bills. There is nothing legally binding them to do so and it is likely they will not.

Talking to an Insurance Company Alone

In some cases, a dog's actions may be covered by the owner's insurance. However, you should be wary of giving any statement to an insurance company alone. Their job is not to make sure you are taken care of, but rather to keep the costs of a claim as low as possible. Much of what they trick you into saying can go to hurt your case and lower what they need to pay you.

Instead of talking to an insurance representative alone, you will want to do so with a skilled lawyer by your side. They will advise you as to whether you need to answer the question or how to answer so as to not hurt your case. Dealing with insurance companies isn't particularly common in dog bite cases, but even if you don't have to, you will want an attorney by your side to help you with your case. If you have been bitten by a dog and need someone in your corner to help you get the compensation that you deserve, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman make sure you get what is fair for your injuries.



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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.