What Are the Rights of a Dog Bite Victim?

You are taking an afternoon walk when a dog hops over a fence, runs at you and attacks you.  What should you do?  If you are bitten, you should clean the wound immediately, using soap and warm water.  Try to remember the dog’s description, including breed, color and size.  If the dog owner is identifiable, obtain all necessary information about him or her, including name, address and contact information.  You should also take pictures of the bite wound(s) as soon as possible.  You also need to find out if the dog is up to date on its shots.  If the dog is a stray, you will need to undergo rabies treatment.

What are your legal rights?  Under California law, dog bites fall under the “strict liability” body of laws.  Under California Civil Code Section 3342, “the owner of a dog is liable to anyone bitten by their dog who is in a public place, or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property regardless of whether the dog has ever bit anyone before and regardless of whether the owner knew the dog had bitten anyone before.”  This means that a dog owner is liable for his or her dog’s actions even for first time bites and even if the dog is restrained.

However, Section 3342 only applies to owners.  If someone is keeping the dog, but does not own it, then the keeper may be responsible under a negligence theory, meaning that he or she may be responsible if he or she knew the dog had a propensity to be dangerous but failed to take appropriate action(s), under the circumstances, to keep the dog from attacking you.

How about landlords?  In some cases, a landlord may be responsible for dogs owned by their tenants.  If the landlord knows of the dog, and knows that the dog has dangerous propensities, then the landlord may be held responsible as well.

The best, and sometimes only, way to protect yourself is to contact an experienced accident or personal injury attorney.  Remember that most, if not all, personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney gets paid a percentage of the settlement or the judgment in the case and if there is no settlement or judgment, then the attorney does not charge a fee.

The Mason Law Firm is managed by Mason Rashtian, an experienced personal injury attorney.  He has worked on the defense and the plaintiff’s side. Hence, he is very familiar with both sides of litigation.

If you have a personal injury case, such as an accident, slip and fall, dog bite, etc., and want to get an honest assessment of your case and be educated as to your options, please give us a call. There is never a fee unless there is recovery in the case. Please contact us at (661) 362-0805 or (818) 700-8422, or email us at mason@mrscvlaw.com for a free case evaluation.  For more information, please visit our website at http://mrscvlaw.com or http://scvinjuryline.com.

This article strictly talks about California law.  Laws in other states may differ.  This article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to serve as legal advice.

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