Alex Cuevas, 15, was seriously injured in a dog attack after a pit bull escaped from its owner’s yard and attacked her in a Corona neighborhood. According to a report in The Press-Enterprise, Alex and her 14-month-old Shih Tzu, Cocoa, were walking near Morales Way and Honors Lane the afternoon of May 10, 2013 when the loose pit bull went after the smaller dog. Alex said she was hurt as she attempted to save her dog. The pit bull bit her arms and her right ear.
The teen says she is haunted by the violent attack and relives the moment in her head. Alex’s right ear was nearly severed in the attack and barely hung by the bottom portion. It had to be surgically reattached. Alex’s mother said she was distressed to see her daughter covered in blood after the attack. Police said the unlicensed pit bull escaped from its owner’s yard, but no citations have been issued yet. The investigation is ongoing.
It is indeed fortunate that Alex Cuevas was not more seriously injured. I wish her the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Dog Owner Negligence
Based on this news report, it appears that an unrestrained, unlicensed pit bull ran out its yard and attacked the girl who was just walking on the street. Alex asks a very valid question during her interview with The Press-Enterprise: If swimming pools can be made safer by surrounding them with fences and self-closing gates, why can’t the same be required around backyards that contain pit bulls?
There are several questions in this particular case. Why did the owner have an unlicensed dog? Did the pit bull attack other people or animals in the past? Why was the dog unrestrained? I trust officials are looking into these and other issues in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why.
Liability Issues in Dog Bite Cases
Under California’s “strict liability statute” dog owners can be held financially responsible for injuries caused by their pets. California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “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.”
Injured dog bite victims in such cases can seek compensation from negligent owners for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, psychological counseling, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that the negligent parties are held liable.