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Dog Bites And The Law: Establishing Liability

By Expert Author: R. Klettke

Dog Owners Can Be Held Liable If Their Dog Bites Another Person


If a dog has bitten you and the dog owner was liable, you may need a dog bite attorney to pursue damages in a personal injury lawsuit.


It is frightening to think that in an instant a serious injury might be inflicted on you or a loved one by another person’s dog. But almost always that is how it happens. A pleasant sidewalk stroll in your neighborhood, in a public park or even when visiting friends in their home can turn into a frightening, painful, costly and possibly disfiguring incident. That is what can result when a dog unexpectedly snaps and bites another person.


When this occurs, it is imperative to contact a personal injury attorney that specializes in dog bite injuries (also known as a “dog bite lawyer”) to investigate liability and, if needed, file a lawsuit against those that are liable for the injuries.


Many such incidents occur because the human “parents” of a dog actually encourage aggressive behavior. But even docile dogs that had no previous behavioral issues can bite humans and other dogs – causing injury as well as emotional trauma.


Some such injurious dog bites involve clear liability on the part of the dog parent/owner. The points of California dog bite laws include the following:


You had permission to be where you were. A guest in a home had every reason to expect safety, not to defend against a dog attack. If you are an intruder, which includes thieves and sales people (uninvited parties*), you have no case for a lawsuit.


You were not informed of a cordoned-off area. If a problematic dog is sequestered to a certain fenced area or a room, you should be informed of that. If not and you unwittingly walk into the place where the dog attacks you, you may have a case to pursue damages.


The dog attacked without provocation. If you kick, tease or otherwise provoke the animal, the fault for the attack may fall on you. The point could be debatable – consequently your dog bite attorney would need to prove that you did not cause the dog to attack.


The dog bite was the direct cause of the injury and resulting financial loss. Your personal injury lawyer will need to prove your injuries were from the dog bite and that those injuries led to the need for medical care and therapy. To increase your chances for litigation success, seek immediate medical attention to prevent infection and to document the injuries.


The damages incurred by a dog attack can be pricey: Medical emergency care, medications, long-term care, time lost from work and pain and suffering. Many property owners have liability policies attached to their homeowner’s insurance policies that will be covered in the event that they are successfully sued in court if their dog bites another person. Under certain other circumstances, the landlord of the building can also be held liable.


Be sure to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who will help you investigate and prove liability in your dog bite case.


*Mail carriers are considered invited guests by the law.

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