Dog bites can be a traumatic experience. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, California led all states with 2,396 dog bite claims in 2019 alone. But proving liability in a dog bite case depends on the state where it happened, and the circumstances surrounding the incident.
If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to understand how to prove fault to ensure you can recover compensation for your injuries. You may be wondering, how do I prove fault for a dog bite case in Los Angeles, and what evidence do I need?
California’s Dog Bite Law
While most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence, this is not the case with most dog bite laws. Instead, many states including California impose strict liability for dog bites.
Under state law, “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.” This means that a dog owner is strictly liable for any bites regardless of negligence, even if they took reasonable steps to prevent it from happening.
Does Where the Bite Happened Matter?
A public place is generally defined as any location that is open to the public, or to which the general public is invited.
This includes a wide variety of locations including streets, parks, sidewalks, restaurants, alleyways, and more. If a dog bite occurs at one of these locations, the owner may be held liable for the victim’s damages.
The same is true if the bite occurs on private property. As long as the victim was lawfully present on the property through either implied or express consent, they can file a dog bite claim against the owner.
In addition, federal and state laws allow workers such as parking attendants, delivery drivers, and post officers to be on private property so that they can do their jobs.
Exceptions to California’s Dog Bite Law
Not every bite will be eligible for a claim, as there are exceptions to the state’s strict liability approach.
- Trespassers. A dog owner cannot be held strictly liable for dog bites suffered by those trespassing on private property.
- Assumption of risk. Veterinarians, techs, kennel workers, shelter employees, and others assume the risk of being bitten by the nature of their position, and strict liability does not apply.
- Working dogs. Handlers are exempt from liability even if the victim harasses or provokes the dog, but the organization the dog represents may be held liable if an innocent bystander is bitten.
- Provocation. If an individual provokes a dog to the point they are bitten, the owner may not be held strictly liable.
If any of these exceptions apply to a case, the owner may not be held strictly liable, but the victim may still be able to pursue a negligence claim.
What Evidence Do You Need for a Dog Bite Claim?
If you suffer a dog bite in Los Angeles, the first consideration is your health and safety. Seek medical attention immediately.
It is also important to note that Los Angeles County requires reporting all dog bites to the county’s public health department. Evidence you can use to help prove your dog bite case includes:
- Police reports,
- Video footage of aggressive behavior,
- Pictures of injuries sustained,
- Witness statements,
- Medical bills, and
- Medical records.
This list is not exhaustive, and you should speak to a Los Angeles area dog bite attorney if you have any questions about what evidence you will need to recover the compensation you deserve.
If you have been bitten by a dog in Los Angeles and don’t know where to turn for recovery, the team at Weinberg Law Offices is here to help. We specialize in personal injury and bring years of experience to every case.
We also offer a free consultation for potential clients, and don’t collect a dime unless we successfully obtain compensation for your injuries.
To set up an appointment, call our Los Angeles office or fill out our online contact form to get started.