When appropriately trained and socialized with humans, dogs are man’s best friends. That being said, it is essential to understand that they are still animals who will attack when feeling threatened. A dog bite is an incredibly traumatic thing to endure, and it can happen at any time. It is not unusual for an ordinarily friendly and loving dog to have an episode and wind up biting someone. For this reason, we need to understand both dog safety and dog bite laws in the state of California.
California operates under a “strict liability” rule, which means that the dog’s owner is responsible for everything their dog does, even if it has never displayed aggression before. This also means that the dog’s owner is liable for all damages related to their dog’s behavior.
Let’s consider a hypothetical. You are out on a walk in your neighborhood when you come across a neighbor walking his dog. You have met this dog before and know him to be generally friendly. You stop to chat with your neighbor when the dog starts growling. Both you and the neighbor are surprised by this and are not immediately alarmed. Suddenly, the dog lunges for you and bites you on the hand. Both you and the dog owner are shocked. You seek medical attention and wind up having to take a leave from work since your job requires you to type, and you cannot do so while recovering from your injury.
In this situation, your neighbor can be held responsible for your medical expenses, your missed work expenses, and consideration for your pain and suffering. It does not matter that the dog behaved unexpectedly; the owner is still responsible. It may feel uncomfortable to go after your neighbor for damages, but do not let that stand in your way. Every California dog owner should understand what their responsibility is. If they fail to understand their accountability, the law will do it for them.
If you or a loved one have been bit by a dog, do not let politeness stand between you and t