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Calabasas Dog Bite Lawyer

Fred is enjoying a typical Saturday afternoon with his furry friend at Calabasas Bark Park, catching up on email and enjoying the view of the foothills while Trixie (his seemingly friendly terrier mix) frolics with a pack of other dogs. The casual vibe of the dog park is suddenly punctuated by a human scream as Fred’s looking down at his phone. He looks up to realize, to his utter astonishment, that Trixie has bitten a fellow dog owner, drawing blood! He insists she has never done that throughout the nearly eight years he’s had her.

He had no reason to believe she was a dangerous animal, but now he’s trying to explain that to someone with a rather severe bite wound on her hand. Is Fred liable for their injuries? What will happen to Trixie? Such situations require the professional expertise of a Calabasas dog bite injury lawyer to help.

California Dog Bites and Strict Liability

Some states have laws known as the “one bite rule,” where owners are not held liable for dog bites if there is no history of viciousness and they’re being properly handled. But California is different. The state applies strict liability to dog bites and other injuries caused by domestic animals. This means that owners are liable for any bite-related injuries their furry friends inflict on others, regardless of the animal’s history.

That being said, strict liability doesn’t apply under the following exceptions:

  • Non-bite related injuries;
  • Police or military dogs performing their official duties;
  • Instances where trespassers are bitten;
  • When the dog is provoked or teased; and
  • Individuals who aren’t the dog’s owner can’t be held liable.

Since Trixie bit someone in a public place, and wasn’t provoked, Fred most likely will be held liable for the other person’s injuries. What if someone who isn’t Trixie’s owner, perhaps a dog walker, was in control of the dog when she bit someone? In that case, the person who was bitten could pursue a civil claim under the state’s one bite rule if there is a record that Trixie has bitten someone in the past.

Keep in mind that some municipalities (not including Calabasas) differ from state law. For instance, the Beverly Hills Municipal Code expands on liability to include all injuries caused by a pet, not just bites.

Negligence Per Se and Dog-Related Injuries

It is possible to sue for “negligence per se” if it can be proven that the owner or handler wasn’t following proper animal control procedures, such as allowing your dog to roam the neighborhood unsupervised or off leash. This also allows the plaintiff (the person suing for damages) to more easily cover their bases, since it would apply to non-bite injuries (such as scratches or where a large dog knocked someone over) or where the dog was under the control of a third-party other than the owner.

Whether your attorney files a suit under strict liability, the “one bite” rule, or for “negligence per se,” you have two years in which to submit your claim. This time limit applies to all personal injury cases and is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” Your Calabasas dog bite injury lawyer will be able to determine the best way to file your claim.

What Happens to the Animal?

If the dog has bitten someone on at least two occasions, then the court may conduct a hearing to determine how best to protect the public. For instance, if the owner continually fails to secure their dog, they may order the dog to be confined. If the owner defies this order, the animal may be removed from the owner or even euthanized. The decision would really depend on the facts of the particular case.

In the example of Trixie, her owner would be put on notice if she bit someone a second time. Perhaps the court would order Fred to use a muzzle or keep her on a leash (which means she would probably be barred from Calabasas Bark Park).

Get Immediate Legal Help from a Calabasas Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

Dog bites not only hurt, they can cause lasting pain or even lead to a serious infection or spread rabies. If you’ve been injured by a dog that you didn’t provoke, regardless of owner negligence, you are entitled to seek monetary compensation. Depending on the circumstances, a dog bite may require much more intervention than just a Band-Aid. Make sure you consult with a skilled professional. The Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, A Law Corporation have the experience and professionalism to get you the compensation you deserve.

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