El Centro Dog Bite Lawyer
Dog bites can inflict serious damage, both from the bite itself and from injuries coming from the bite. A bite can become infected or damage bone and tissue, and a fall from a dog latching onto clothing can cause harm as a bite too.
Not every dog bite can turn into a claim for damages, depending on the circumstances. An El Centro dog bite lawyer could sort out responsibility for a dog bite and see if an injured person has a claim based on their situation. Call one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today to learn more.
Liability Basics for a Dog Bite
Generally, a dog’s owner is responsible for a bite by their dog. In fact, California Civil Code § 3342 establishes an owner’s responsibility for all dog bites regardless of the dog’s history, as opposed to the one-bite rule in some states, allowing one bite before an owner becomes responsible.
A Person Lawfully on an Owner’s Property
This sweeping responsibility applies if a bite occurs in a public place or to a person lawfully on the owner’s property. Someone is lawfully on an owner’s property if they are allowed to be there, such as by the owner’s invitation or under duties established by state law or postal regulations. For example, a contractor working on the owner’s home with consent, utilities inspectors, or U.S. postal workers are lawfully on the property.
Trespassers do not get protection from dog bites, since they are not lawfully on another person’s property. In some unique cases, a trespasser might make a claim based on the owner’s negligence, but such cases are few and far between.
Dogs Used by Government Agencies, Military, and Police
Notably, liability for a dog bite does not apply to a government agency using a dog for military or police work. A person injured by a government dog that is provoked or assisting a government employee in certain actions—apprehending a suspect, executing a warrant, investigating a crime, or defending a person—cannot bring responsibility for a bite on the government agency, unless the person is outside of the government work or the agency does not have written policies governing their dogs.
A lawyer could navigate the specific circumstances of a dog bite claim in El Centro. Even if the injured person is a trespasser or was bitten by a government dog, an attorney could see if exceptions apply.
Damages and Defenses for Dog Bites
A victim of a dog bite can recover damages as compensation for their injuries. For example, the medical costs and lost wages can be recovered from the dog’s owner, as well as damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and permanent scarring or disfigurement. Claims must be filed within two years of the bite, as established by California Civil Procedure Code § 335.1.
A dog owner could defend a claim based on the actions of the injured person. While state law establishes a wide range of responsibility, strict liability does not apply. Instead, comparative fault and assumption of risk can reduce or block a dog bite claim, as held by the case Johnson v. McMahan.
Comparative fault applies if a person has partial responsibility for their own injuries and can reduce the damages recoverable by their percentage of responsibility. The state uses a pure comparative fault system, so even if a person has more than 50 percent responsibility, they may be able to collect damages attributed to the dog owner.
Assumption of risk could also apply in the case of a dog bite. If a person ignored warnings that a dog could bite or pose a danger, they could have assumed the risk of their actions and be unable to recover.
An attorney familiar with dog bites in El Centro could see if an owner could raise these defenses to block a claim and evaluate the best way to protect a person’s claim.
Speak with a Dog Bite Attorney for Insight
A dog bite usually results in a claim against the owner, who is responsible for all bites by their dog. But the specific circumstances can defeat a claim, such as the status of the owner as a government agency, the status of the victim as a trespasser, or the victim’s own actions.
When you have suffered an injury in an animal attack, an El Centro dog bite lawyer could provide guidance on your case and help you determine if you have a claim. Call one of our attorneys today to schedule a consultation.