There Are a Record Number of Dog Bite Injuries in California
Dog bite accidents are on the rise over the country and especially in California. In fact, according to a study by the Insurance Information Institute, about one-third of homeowners’ insurance claims involve dog bites. The total number of these claims comes to around 16,000 over a decade. In California alone, reported serious dog bites are up by nearly 45% over the last decade.
The Owner of the Dog is Almost Always Liable for Injuries Caused by Their Dog
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dogs, which means that it is almost always the owner of the dog’s responsibility to prevent their dog from injury someone and their responsibility to compensate any victims if their dog does hurt someone. This is true even if the owner had no reason to believe their dog was aggressive and / or likely to bite. The law states that simply having a dog means that the owner took on this responsibility.
It is Not Always That Simple: Sometimes the Owner of the Dog is Not Responsible
Of course, the fact of the matter is that in some cases the owner of the dog is not responsible for the damages. This is most commonly the case if the person who was bitten was trespassing. The key is that the owner of a dog, and of personal property of any type, has a responsible to keep it reasonably safe and to ensure that others have a reasonable expectation of safety when around their dog.
However, if a person breaks into someone’s home, trespasses through their backyard, or in another way trespasses on a someone’s property then the owner has no responsibility to that person. In these cases, because the owner did not invite the victim on to their property, they are unlikely to be legally responsible for what happened to said victim once they were on their property.
Criminal and Civil Liability Are Very Different
It is a surprise to some that just because a pet owner is civil liable – i.e. it is their responsibility to pay for damages to the victim – does not mean they are criminally liable. If a dog has a history of being aggressive and / or injury people, and the owner does not take extraordinary precautions to keep their pet away from others, then they could be held criminally liable. If they encouraged their dog to attack then they may be held criminally liable. Otherwise, it is unlikely.
If you have been bitten by a dog and suffered an injury as a result then you may be owed damages by the owner of the pet and / or their insurance company. Call Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 now to find out what your options are.