If you have suffered injuries from a dog bite, you may be contemplating on filing a lawsuit. California dog bite law is strict on dog owners whose animals cause injuries to others.
Research shows that many Americans gets medical care for dog bites every year, most victims being children. This leads to thousands of lawsuits for compensation.
If you or your loved one in such a situation, it would be prudent to understand the liability laws that would apply in your case.
Understanding Dog Bite In California
California embraces strict liability laws. Meaning, a dog owner is held liable for any injury caused by their pet regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong to cause your injuries.
If you were bitten and suffered injuries, the dog owner could not argue that they were not aware of such aggressive behavior concerning their dog. This doesn’t mean that any bite is compensable. To recover damages, you must be in a public place, or you were in a private place legally at the time of the bite.
Again, if you are bitten by a military dog on patrol and was a suspect, it becomes impossible to take legal action.
To sue, you must understand what counts as a bite in California. For example, if a dog chases you, bites your bike, and you cause an accident, it may be hard to get compensation. Any compensation would be based on whether the injury you suffered resulted from negligence.
In many cases, you have to prove that you suffered injures due to the dog’s owner’s negligence. To get compensation, you will need to show that:
- You have a dog bite
- You were in a legally private or a public place
At times, the victim may also be liable for their own injuries. If you are partly to blame for your dog bite injuries, different laws will apply. This may happen if you were trespassing or breaking the law in any way. For instance, you may have provoked a dog only to be bitten. In such a case, pure comparative negligence may apply in your case.
Where the dog bites you and no bodily damage is apparent, your lawyer can advise you whether and how liability may apply in such a case.
Filing Your Dog Bite Claim
If someone’s dog has injured you, you may file a claim. The best way to handle dog bites would be to look for a personal injury attorney in Bakersfield Ca. It’s the only way to ensure you get fair compensation.
It would be easier to file a claim where the owner knew of their aggressive characteristics. It’s legally argued that such an owner should have known of such danger and would have taken reasonable steps to eliminate such incidents. In such cases, the court may order indoor control of the dog to protect the public.
It’s vital to consider the statute of limitations when suing for damages. In California, you only have two years to use the civil court system for compensation. However, there are exemptions where such time may be tolled. One is when the owner moves out of state, making it impossible to file your personal injury claim.
When To File Your Claim
Under the strict liability dog bite rule, even if you suffered a dog bite and the owner never did anything wrong to cause your injuries, you may still recover damages. But if the deadline for filing lapses, you lose your legal rights to get compensated. Besides, the defendant may also be quick to dismiss your claim, claiming you never suffered injuries. Where such a deadline passes and you are wondering what to do, a lawyer can explain whether the exemption would apply in your case. Your lawyer can guide you on when to sue for a dog bite.
For your damages, you may choose to negotiate with the insurance company or file a lawsuit. However, it’s better to start any negotiations as early as possible to ensure you have ample time if such negotiations never bear fruit.
For a successful claim, you will be interested in proving that you were in public or legally allowed in a private place at the time of the bite. If you were partly to blame, you would get compensation depending on the percentage of your fault.
Remember that you have to prove the dog owner failed to take reasonable steps or never use reasonable care to prevent your injuries. If you were trespassing, the dog owner would raise a defense, which may deter you from getting damages.
Dog bites laws are complex. Therefore, it would be prudent to seek legal help from a seasoned lawyer. One main reason is that such laws keep on changing, which might affect your claim.