Dogs are regarded as the best companion of humans. You can attest to the loyalty and love of your four-legged friend if you are a dog person. In fact, most people are. However, this gift doesn’t come without risks. While your canine will be well-disposed and compassionate with you and your family, it may not be the same with other people and animals. Note that even your most benevolent dog is likely to get aggressive under certain circumstances. According to some studies, around 800,000 dog bite accidents are reported in the United States of America every year. Additionally, almost half of the dog bite victims are children, and, senior citizens are the second most common group of victims.
California State boasts a strict liability policy when it comes to dog bite incidents. That means, the owner and the dog will be liable for the accident. Plus, the dog owner will be entitled to give fair financial coverage to the victim. If you are a dog owner and are residing in California, it will be your best interest to know about the liability claims and laws applicable to you as well as your dog. Below are the most crucial five points that a dog owner must be aware of.
Previous knowledge of your canine’s aggression does not matter in California
As mentioned earlier, California is a strict liability state and it leaves little to no room for the defendant to argue. Note that if your dog bit someone, you cannot argue that you were unaware of the aggressive nature of your dog or you haven’t seen it before. At the same time, the dog bite claim against you is likely to be rejected if your dog just injured the victim, but didn’t bite. Furthermore, you can defend yourselves and your dog if the victim got bitten while trespassing on your private property. This can include parcel or mail service employees. On the other hand, if your dog bit the victim at a public place or lawfully in a private place, you will be held responsible for the accident.
Dog owners can be held liable for some other things apart from dog bites
You can be held liable for the damages even if your dog didn’t bit the victim. Sometimes, your dog may just latch on a person making him fall causing some injuries such as bruises, a broken bone, etc. In such cases, the victim can file a personal injury loss lawsuit against you. Besides, in some dog attack incidents, the medical condition of the victim can get worse. For instance, assume a situation where your dog bit the pants of a person who was standing on a ladder and made him fall. This can result in some serious injuries. In such cases, the dog owner is expected to give coverage for the medical expenses and all other related expenses of the victim. This can sometimes exceed the usual dog bite claim compensation.
Physical damage is not only the factor considered to determine the dog bite compensation
Sometimes, the person attacked by your canine may not get hurt physically. Still, you can be held liable for the property damages. This may include valuable gadgets, vehicle, eyeglasses, etc. Usually, this type of damages can be covered using a Homeowner’s insurance. So, it is better to analyze your policy schemes well. Other than this, the dog owners can be held responsible for the emotional trauma and pain suffered by the victim. The compensation amount will be high in the case of children. When it comes to adults, you are expected to provide monetary coverage for the loss of income of the victim as well.
The victim can file both civil and criminal charges against you
Unlike some other places, a dog bite victim can file the case of criminal negligence on the dog owner in California. After all, it is the responsibility of the caretaker to look after his/her dog and avoid dog bite incidents. If your dog already has a history of aggression and you or the court is aware of this, you will be probably convicted for a misdemeanor or other charges. This may include not taking adequate steps to prevent dog bite accidents or to correct your dog’s behavior. Of course, things will get worse if the victim got killed out of the dog bite injuries. In such cases, not even an expert dog bite attorney will be able to defend your side.
There are some reasonable defenses for dog owners
There are certain cases where the dog owners have some reasonable defenses. Some of those situations are listed below.
- If a dog bite incident occurred when the victim tried to trespass on your property.
- If your dog was trying to protect you from a criminal.
- If your dog bit a person after being forced, provoked, or hit by him/her. For instance, situations like stepping on the tail or limbs of the dog, trying to irritate the dog, etc.
- If a person got bitten while trying to pet your dog through the fence without your permission.