Being attacked by a dog can be not only physically traumatizing, but it can also cause significant emotional and psychological distress. Dog bite victims who suffer severe injuries must go through months of treatment including cosmetic surgery procedures. Even with such advanced treatments, they may be left with permanent scars or disfigurement. Victims of dog bites would be well advised to contact an experienced Tustin dog bite lawyer who will better advise them about their legal rights and options.
California Dog Bite Law
According to California Civil Code section 3342 (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. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.”
What Does This Law Mean for Owners and Victims?
The first part of the statute clearly states that the dog’s owner is responsible for the damages suffered by the victim. The next part explains that the victim must be on public property or lawfully on private property. This means that someone who is breaking the law by trespassing or trying to commit a burglary will have difficulty pursuing compensation for the injuries they may have suffered by a guard dog or household pet. Next, the law states that it does not matter what the “former viciousness” of the dog was before the incident. This means that a dog owner can be held liable for the incident even if it was the first time the dog ever attacked anyone.
California Civil Code section 3342 covers incidents involving dogs used during an arrest as well. “Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (a) against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following: (1) In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect's involvement in criminal activity. (2) In the investigation of a crime or possible crime. (3) In the execution of a warrant. (4) In the defense of a peace officer or another person.”
Explanation of Police Dog Law
Orange County police officers do utilize police dogs from time to time. These large and powerful animals have the potential to do great harm. This part of the statute clearly states that the governing body in charge of the dog cannot be held accountable for the damages caused by the animal if the dog was used in the investigation of a crime. Victims of police dog-related injuries might have a more difficult time pursuing compensation compared with someone injured by a dog owned by a civilian.
Protecting your Rights
If you have been injured in a Tustin dog bite incident, please contact the authorities, seek immediate medical attention and collect as much information as you can about the dog and its owner. The experienced Tustin dog bite lawyers at Bisnar | Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, LLP have a long and successful track record of helping dog bite victims pursue fair and full compensation for their losses. We have also helped these victims hold negligent dog owners accountable. Please call us at 1-800-561-4887 for a free consultation and to find out how we can help you pursue your legal rights.
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