For many Californians, dogs are friendly and faithful family companions. They can be man’s best friend, but can also cause harm when not properly trained. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, with around 800,00 requiring medical treatment. This can be scary for parents. But if your child was bitten by a dog in the Golden State, California law provides you with rights. Read on to learn what to do if your child is bitten by a dog in California, and how the team at Weinberg Law can help.
When Are California Dog Owners Liable for Bites?
So, what happens when a dog bites a child? If anyone is bitten by a dog in California, they might be entitled to recover compensation for damages from the owner. California is one of the states that subscribes to the strict liability theory concerning dog bites. This makes California dog owners responsible for most bite injuries. It doesn’t matter whether the bite victim can prove that the owner knew their dog might be dangerous, as is the case in states with one-bite laws. It also doesn’t change an owner’s liability if they have taken precautions to prevent their pet from hurting someone, which is a defense some dog owners use in lawsuits brought under a negligence standard. In California, an owner is liable for their dog’s injuries if they were:
- Bitten by a dog, and
- Lawfully present on the property where the bite happened.
This means that the injured person was lawfully visiting private property with the express or implied permission of the owner, or if they were there to perform duties assigned to them by California law, federal laws, or other recognized regulations. Strict liability does not apply, however, if the person was trespassing.
What Is Considered a “Bite” in California?
Contrary to common belief, a dog does not need to break a child’s skin or cause bleeding to qualify as a “bite.” Under California law, a bite occurs any time a dog uses its teeth to grab a person or any time the dog’s jaw closes around them. This means that if a dog grabs onto a child causing them to fall and injure themselves, the action is still considered a “bite” under the law, and the parent or guardian may still seek compensation under California’s dog bite laws.
How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Claim?
Every civil claim in California has a specific time period that a victim must file before the law bars recovery, known as its statute of limitations. In California, dog bites fall under the statute of limitations for personal injuries. This means that a victim has two years from the date of the bite to file a claim against the dog’s owner, or they may not be able to recover compensation at all. This is why it’s important to speak with a California personal injury attorney as soon as possible to help assess your case.
Trust Weinberg Law Offices for Your Child’s Dog Bite Claim
We all want to keep our kids safe and healthy, but sometimes this isn’t always possible. If your child was injured due to a dog bite in California, the personal injury team at Weinberg Law Offices is here to help. We provide each client with personal attention and frequent communication every step of the way and will work hard to get you the compensation you and your family deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call one of our offices or fill out our online contact form to get started today.
Disclaimer: this content should not be construed as legal advice.