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Dog Bite FAQs

Should I report the vicious dog attack? If so, to whom & where?
Yes. California dog bites should be reported as soon as medical attention is supplied. Report any dog bite in California to the local county animal control and/or the police or sheriff’s department. Keep a note of the date of the report and the name of the person that you spoke with, to later assist with your California dog bite injury claim. A California dog bite lawyer from our law firm will freely assist you with this.

What if the dog bite or dog attack happened on the dog owner’s property?
A California dog owner has an obligation to restrain his or her animal for public safety. As long as you are on private property legally (or you are legally on public property) the dog’s owner will be held responsible for any damage done by the biting dog.

What are my priorities if attacked by a dog or bitten by an animal?
-Seek medical treatment immediately for any dog bites or puncture wounds. Any
dog bite or animal bites pose a serious health risk for infection and disease.
-Report the dog bites or animal attack to the proper California authorities.
-Photograph the wounded area where the dog bit or animal attacked.
-Write down names and contact info for any witnesses to the dog bite injuries.

What if I was bitten by the dog when I was just playing with the dog?
Any injuries or damages you sustained from the dog bites are still the responsibility of the dog’s owner. Strict liability law on dog bites in California is very clear: if the dog bites, the owner of the dog is responsible and liable. Period.

Should I make a dog bite claim on the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance?
If the owner of the dog who has bitten or attacked has a homeowners’ policy, that insurance will usually cover dog bite injuries. However, it is not wise to either make a claim for dog bite injuries or give a statement about the dog bite incident or accident without first consulting with an attorney. Anything that you say can and will be held against you if the insurance adjuster taking the statement is clever and skilled.

Are there laws in California that specifically cover dog bite injuries & damages?
Yes. Many animal injury and damages cases are covered under general personal injury laws of California, but there are also specific references in the California Civil Code that refer to dog bites, referred to as California strict liability dog bite laws.



California Dog Bite Statistics include:

California Dog Bite Statistics include:

1. Incidence of dog bites & injuries treated in emergency departments. Journal of the American Medical Association 1998 Jan; 279(1): 51-53.
http://www.biomed.lib.umn.edu/hmed/980107_dog.html

2. Preliminary Statistics Number entered: 570 Distribution: Countries http://mastiff.org/exhibit-hall/health/mhstats.mv

3. Statistics on dog bites

 



FROM CALIFORNIA CIVIL CODE RE: CALIFORNIA DOG BITE LAWS & LIABILITY

Liability of California Dog Owner for Damages Suffered From Dog Bite or Bites
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. (b) 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. (c) Subdivision (b) shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite or bites was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act or acts that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work. (d) Subdivision (b) shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subdivision (b).

Duty of California Biting Dog Owner; Court Action Against California Dog Owner
3342.5. (a) The owner of any dog that has bitten a human being shall have the duty to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to remove any danger presented to other persons from bites by the animal. (b) Whenever a dog has bitten a human being on at least two separate occasions, any person, the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary. (c) Whenever a dog trained to fight, attack, or kill has bitten a human being, causing substantial physical injury, any person, including the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary. (d) Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (b) based on a bite or bites inflicted upon a trespasser, or by a dog used in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was actually performing in that capacity. (e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent legislation in the field of dog control by any city, county, or city and county. (f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the liability of the owner of a dog under Section 3342 or any other provision of the law. (g) A proceeding under this section is a limited civil case.