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How Common Are Dog Bite Cases? Is the Dog Owner Always Liable?

With over 77.5 million registered dogs in the United States, it is safe to say that people favor having these furry friends as a house pet. Many people choose to get a dog to have a loyal and loving companion, while others need them as security to protect them from intruders. Unfortunately, there are owners who encourage their dogs to develop an aggressive demeanor towards everyone, not just trespassers. These owners are placing themselves in a position where they can face legal repercussions if their dogs bite and injure someone. 

If you or a loved one were a victim of a dog bite and would like to file a claim against the owner, West Coast Trial Lawyers has experienced Riverside dog bite attorneys that have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. We have won more than 5,000 cases and recovered over $1 billion in settlements for our clients. Due to our achievements, we have been acknowledged as one of the top personal injury law firms in Riverside. 

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our Riverside personal injury law firm, contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (951) 393-1299 or emailing [email protected]

Common Types of Dog Bite Cases

Dog on Dog Attacks: These attacks frequently occur in dog parks and are particularly dangerous because humans who try to break up a dog fight are often injured, as well. Some homeowner’s insurance policies may pay for the victim’s medical bills, but this will not cover for the dogs. Listed below are a few tips on how to react to a dog on dog attack.

    1. Stay calm. Do not panic. You will only make your dog become more afraid. 
  • Do not get in between the altercation. Jumping into the middle of a fight will get you seriously injured.
    1. Distract the dog. You or the other dog owner should distract the aggressive dog by clapping. 
  • Do not yell or make eye contact. If you yell at the other dog or look straight into its eyes, it may feel threatened and show even more aggression. 
  • Acquire the other dog owner’s information. Once you are able to separate both of the dogs from one another, you should get the dog owner’s contact information and ask if their dog has been up-to-date with his or her shots. 
  • Take photographs. If your dog is suffering from any wounds, you should take a photo of the injury, along with the location of where the attack took place. 
  • Call your vet. Once you are in a safe location, you should contact your vet and get their advice on how you should take care of your dog’s wound. They may advise you to go to the animal emergency clinic to examine the dog and determine a diagnosis of its condition. From there, you will receive a treatment plan that will help your dog recover. 
  • Contact the police. You should only contact the police if the dog was seriously injured from the altercation. Minor injuries that can be treated at home do not require help from local authorities.

Non-Aggressive Dog Attacks: These circumstances usually occur when a larger dog unintentionally knocks over or trips someone they may be overly excited to see. These cases are usually handled differently since it is not the dog’s intention to “attack,” especially if there wasn’t a bite involved. Though the dog’s intention has little to do with the actual damage done, these situations are sometimes handled as premises liability cases

Dangerous Dog Breeds: There are certain dog breeds that have a bad reputation. Your home insurance policy may not cover these particular breeds of dogs. Breeds that are considered “inherently dangerous” include Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. In California, it is required for owners to register specific breeds of dogs. Be sure to check with your local government to understand the laws regarding your particular breed. 

Dog Attacks on Children: Rules affecting dog attacks on children can be complicated since children may unintentionally provoke a dog to become aggressive. A dog bite attorney can determine whether the family is qualified to file a claim against the owner.

Dog Owner Liability

Classifying a dog bite claim is largely dependent on the details of the attack. With reference to the California Civil Code Section 3342, if an injured victim was involved, it is generally the duty of the dog owner to pay for damages caused by the bite. 

One of the most important factors in a dog bite case is location. If the victim was bitten in a public place or if they were legally allowed on someone’s property, the dog owner is liable for their pet’s behavior, regardless of most circumstances. Even if the owner had no prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies, or if this was the very first time the dog had ever attacked anyone, the owner will still be held liable.  

Dog Bite Exceptions

California is a strict liability state. This simply means that if you are bitten by a dog — in most cases — the dog owner will be held liable for damages. However, there are a few cases where there may be exceptions:

  1. The victim was not legally allowed on the property.
  2. The dog is a military or government dog and was acting in the line of duty.
  3. The dog was provoked.

To determine if you may be qualified to receive compensation for damages caused by a dog bite, you should contact a personal injury attorney to review your case. The attorney will give you a heads up on whether you should pursue legal actions against the dog owner. 

Contact Us

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Riverside or surrounding areas as a result of a dog bite accident, West Coast Trial Lawyers has experienced Riverside dog bite attorneys who are readily available to provide you with legal assistance. 

Reach out to our 24/7 legal team by calling (951) 393-1299 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free consultation at our Riverside personal injury law firm. 

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