As a dog attack attorney in Orange County, we see all different kinds of dog bite cases. in fact, a lot of what we see as dog attack lawyers, are not just dog bites, but other injuries dogs cause. The California dog bite statute is to protect victims from dog bites. as we have seen, some dogs have the ability to not only be overly aggressive, but their behaviors can be downright vicious. At Silverthorne Attorneys, we wanted to make sure that you are familiar with the strict liability statute. We also want you to know that there is a difference between strict liability and negligence in California dog bite injury claims.
California Dog Bite Statute – Civil Code 3342
To summarize before we go into the text of the law; the California dog bite statue makes an owner of an animal (dog) strictly liable for any dog bite. The owner becomes strictly liable at the time they take possession of the animal. If the victim was not trespassing, provoking the animal, or performing a service that involves the dog. The person suffering however, does not have to prove negligence in a dog bite case. California Civil Code 3342 statute is as follows:
(a) 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, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. a person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
What Does This Mean?
This means that the owner is liable for any damages and injuries the dog causes to someone else. This section specifically specifies that it only applies to a situation where a dog bites someone. It does not involve situations where the dog scratches, knocks over, or jumps on someone. That we will discuss a little further because there is the possibility of filing a negligence claim against the owner. This law protects those who suffer from dog bites only.
California Civil Code 3342.5
California Civil Code 3342.5 applies to any situation where the dog has a history of biting. This statute puts the owners on notice in order to prevent future attacks. the statute states:
The owner of any dog that has bitten a human being shall have the duty to take such reasonable steps as necessary to remove any danger presented to other persons from bites by the animal.
The Difference Between Strict Liability and Negligence
As a dog attack attorney, we want you to be aware of the differences between strict liability and negligence. California is a strict liability state, that means that the owner is responsible for injuries their animal cause. This is “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” in other words, the owner cannot use the defense of whether or not they knew their dog was aggressive. the owner cannot make the defense that it took reasonable care in order to prevent injuries. Strict liability means that the victim does not have to prove that their injuries were due to the dog bite.
Because general injuries in this statute are not included. This means a person who is hurt and seeking damages must show how the owner failed to use reasonable care. General injuries include those from a fall, injuries from a scratch, etc. in order to proceed with a negligence claim against the owner, it is up to the victim to prove that their injuries came from animal in question.
For example; if someone is walking along the sidewalk and the dog jumps on someone and knocks them over causing injuries, it is up to the victim to prove that the dog’s jumping was a direct result of their injuries. They also must prove that the dog owner’s failure to use reasonable care to restrain the animal was the culprit. for instance, if the dog got loose from the backyard, it is up to the victim to prove that the owner did not reasonable care to contain the dog.
What is Criminal Liability?
It is not uncommon for a dog owner to face criminal charges as well as civil liability charges after an attack. If criminal charges are filed, it is possible that the victim to file a civil lawsuit as well. However, there is a time limit for dog bite claims in the state of California. There is a two-year deadline that applies to not only dog bites. It also applies to any other injuries a victim sustains due to a dog attack or an injury caused by the dog.
California’s criminal law only applies to dogs who are “dangerous” or “vicious.” You can see it in other behaviors that include bites, attacks, knocking someone over, etc.
Owners who let these vicious and dangerous dogs roam free or are failing to use reasonable care may face either a felony or a misdemeanor charges if the dog causes serious injuries.
Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer
If you are suffering from injuries due to a dog bite, contact an Orange County dog bite lawyer today. as the victim, you have rights. Hiring a dog bite injury attorney at Silverthorne Attorneys will help you get the settlement you deserve. Not only will we be empathetic to your case, but our client’s and their needs are our top priority.
If you are suffering from injuries due to an attack, please contact us today. Consultations are free!