In California, a dog owner is responsible for any injuries caused when their dog bites a person. But what if the dog bite victim is another dog? California’s dog bite law does not apply to situations where one dog bites another dog. Despite this, when a dog bite victim is a canine, the victim’s owner can often recover damages.
California Dog Owners Are Strictly Liable for Dog Bites
California’s dog bite statute says “(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.” (California Civil Code Section 3342).
This statute is considered a strict liability law. This means that a dog owner is responsible for dog bite damages, regardless of whether anyone could have prevented the bite, and even if the dog has never displayed threatening behavior.
All that is required for a claim under California’s dog bite law is a “yes” response to the following questions:
- Was the dog bite victim in a public place or allowed to be on the privately owned property where the bite occurred?
- Has the victim identified the dog’s owner?
- Did the dog injure the victim by biting him or her?
What Does California Law Say When One Dog Bites Another Dog?
Since California’s dog bite statute only applies to human victims, are dogs free to bite other dogs without consequences? Of course, the answer is “no.” Such an approach could cause chaos in Los Angeles County, which is home to more than 1.5 million dogs.
Dog owners are responsible for their pets’ actions, including when one dog bites another dog. Even without an explicit statute addressing dogs biting other dogs, owners must pay damages, including vet bills, when their dog bites another dog.
California law classifies pets as property. Therefore, negligence and property law govern whether and how much the biting dog’s owner must pay. An experienced Long Beach Dog Bite Accident Lawyer knows which claims to file and how to build a persuasive case to obtain maximum compensation.
A biting dog’s owner only has to compensate the victim if the owner is responsible for the injuries. Since strict liability does not apply when one dog bites another dog, the victim’s owner must show that the aggressor’s owner was negligent. In addition, that owner’s negligence must have led to the bite.
A common example of dog owner negligence is disregard for leash laws. For example, the leash law in unincorporated Los Angeles County requires dogs to be on a leash not more than six feet long whenever a dog leaves its owner’s property. In addition, the person holding the leash must be able to control the dog. If, while off-leash or on a long retractable leash, one dog bites another dog, the owner of the biting dog is responsible. By disobeying the leash law, that owner was negligent. Therefore, he must pay for the other dog’s injuries. Exceptions to leash laws, of course, include dog parks and other areas where dogs are explicitly allowed to be off-leash.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable When A Dog Bites Another Dog?
Many dog owners consider their pets to be members of their families. This is obvious in the number of dog-friendly restaurants, dog-friendly hotels, and off-leash parks and beaches in Southern California.
Despite a pet owner’s feelings toward a dog, California law considers a dog to be property. Therefore, a pet owner cannot recover for something like loss of companionship after a person or animal injures or kills a pet.
So what damages can a dog owner seek when another dog bites his dog? How does California law determine the value of a beloved pet? Under property law, property owners can recover the value of their property when a negligent person damages it. Since pets are property, this principle applies to them.
Many pet owners love dogs that have wandered into their lives as strays, were rescued from a shelter, or were claimed from a “free puppies” sign. These dogs don’t have pedigrees and their “market value” is zero. Does that mean they can’t be compensated if another dog bites their dog?
Not at all. In an important cat injury case, the California Court of Appeals said that the cost of vet bills to treat a hurt pet could be considered in determining the value of a pet and the damages a jury can award a pet owner. https://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1569372.html
Other court decisions agree. In Martinez v. Robledo, a pair of cases involving dogs, the California Court of Appeals said that “allowing an injured pet’s owner to recover the reasonable and necessary costs incurred in the treatment and care of the animal attributable to the injury is a rational and appropriate measure of damages.”
How Can A Long Beach Dog Bite Accident Lawyer Help?
Your Injuries Are Personal To Me
When one dog bites another dog, the path to compensation for damages may not be clear. I will find the most direct route to maximum compensation if a dog bites your pet. In my dog bite law practice, I have represented hundreds of dog bite victims over the last 35 years. I know how to build a successful, persuasive dog bite case.
I thoroughly understand the laws around pet ownership. Dog owners have compensated my clients for harms in situations including when
- one dog bites another dog.
- a dog hurts someone by knocking them down or scratching them instead of biting them.
- a dog damages property like fences, sports equipment, landscaping, doors or screens.
My law practice focuses exclusively on victims’ rights. I take your injuries personally and will work tirelessly until you receive the full compensation you are entitled to.
Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation. You are under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover damages for your injuries.