Dogs might be man’s best friend—and in most cases, they live up to the name—but every animal has a breaking point. Thankfully, California tort law recognizes as much. The statute governing dog bite claims acknowledges that all dogs have the propensity to attack, so victims can usually hold the dog owner liable for their injuries.
Under the state’s strict liability doctrine, owners are almost always responsible for damages their dogs cause, even if they were not being negligent at the time. In other words, victims don’t have to prove that the owner knew or should have known the animal was inclined to be aggressive.
This contrasts with the “one-bite” rule that applies in many other states. Pursuant to that rule, owners are only liable for injuries if they knew their dog had a history of being vicious but failed to take reasonable measures to protect those around them.
What Do I Have to Prove to Win My Dog Bite Claim Under California’s Strict Liability Law?
If you file a dog bite claim in California, not having to demonstrate negligence on the part of the pet owner will certainly eliminate a major hurdle. That doesn’t mean, however, that recovering a payout will be easy.
You’re still going to have to present sufficient proof that the owner is responsible under the state’s strict liability law. You’re also going to have to demonstrate that you incurred actual, recoverable damages as a result of the incident.
Generally speaking, the owner will be responsible if:
- You were on public property or lawfully on private property at the time of the attack;
- You did not provoke the dog prior to the attack; and
- You sustained bruises, lacerations, and/or other physical injuries during the attack.
In order to prove all of the above, your legal team may use some combination of the following:
- Eyewitness testimony;
- Surveillance footage;
- Photographs of the scene;
- The official incident report;
- Statements from animal control responders;
- Statements from canine behavioral experts;
- Medical records; and
- Photographs of the wounds.
As for demonstrating damages, the following evidence will probably come in handy:
- Hospital bills;
- Health insurance statements;
- Receipts and invoices for objectively verifiable losses like replacement services and child care; and
- Paystubs logging any work you missed because you were being treated for your injuries.
California also recognizes non-economic damages like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life. You can highlight the extent of these losses using detailed journal entries, psychological evaluations, and testimony from loved ones and colleagues.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Dog Bite Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we know just how devastating dog bite injuries can be. If you were attacked by someone else’s pet, our resourceful team will help you gather the evidence needed to hold the liable party accountable. Call (562) 206-1939 or complete our Online Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a dog bite lawyer in Long Beach.
- When Is a Dog Owner Liable for Bite-Related Injuries? - November 3, 2021