Dogs are widely accepted as members of the family, but they can also be a serious threat. Dog bites can be fatal or may cause severe injuries. If you experience a dog bite, you should understand your legal rights.
There are a few elements to consider to determine if you have a case.
California is a strict liability state
Some states require proven negligence on the part of the dog owner to pursue a liability claim. California enforces strict liability, holding dog owners responsible for their dogs and any resulting bites regardless of negligence. That means you may have a case just because the dog bit you.
A history of aggression sets a precedent
If you work with an attorney to build your case, you may get access to past records for the dog. A history of aggressive behavior, including unprovoked bites, can substantiate your case and may result in declaring the dog a dangerous animal, which then requires the owner to take special precautions when the dog is outside.
You may need to prove that you were not trespassing
In some cases, liability is dismissed if the bite occurred during an illegal activity. If you cross onto the property without permission, the owner may claim you were trespassing. Witness statements or documentation of the reason you were there can help.
Dog bite cases can be complex and your recovery is a priority. Understanding the process helps you navigate it more easily so you can focus on healing while you seek restitution.