Are Dog Owners Liable for Bites in California?
The State of California is among the few states holding strict liability laws against dog owners. California law holds pet owners responsible for injuries related to most dog bites. When a victim of dog bite files a claim to seek compensation for injuries that they may have sustained, California law gives less regard to the pet owners.
It does not matter whether the pet owner knew or did not know that their pet would act aggressively towards other people. Furthermore, California dog bite laws would also not give regard to owners claiming that their pet had no previous history of being vicious. Pet owners have no room to argue that their dogs were not dangerous. Additionally, California strict liability laws do not give the pet owners room to argue that they took proper precautions in a bid to prevent an attack.
California’s strict liability statute cannot assist victims injured by dogs that did not bite them. For instance, the victim was attacked while riding a motorcycle and caused an accident. However, such victims can receive compensation if they can prove that their injuries were as a result of the dog owner’s negligence.
California law requires pet owners to be responsible for taking logical steps needed to remove the danger of future attacks when their dogs have bitten a person in the past. Anybody could file a civil case against an owner, whose dog has bitten a human twice, in separate events, or the owner of a trained attack dog that has severely injured someone with even a single bite. The court can order the dog owner to take necessary steps for prevention of future attacks, including removal of the dog from the area or having it destroyed.
California law also contains separate legal procedures to control dangerous dogs. Animal control or law enforcement officials could file a petition for a hearing if they suspect that a dog is a threat. If the court sees that the animal is potentially dangerous or vicious, then the owner has to meet some conditions, including keeping the pet indoors, on a secure leash, or in a fenced yard that can keep the dog in and children out. Dog owners violating these restrictions could be fined.
Dog owners could also face criminal charges when their pets injure a person. The law applies if the owner was aware that the dog was prone to mischievous behavior, but they did not keep it under control, and the animal ended up killing or injuring someone while roaming at large. The offense would be a felony if the victim dies and a wobbler if the victim only sustains injuries.