Over 4 million people in America are attacked and bitten by dogs every year. There were 392 deaths resulting from dog attacks reported between 2005 and 2016 in the country and California ranked second in dog bite fatalities.
Dog bites can result in serious injuries no matter what breed of dog attacks you. Dog attacks can also have a devastating impact on the mental health of the victim. Some people have been known to suffer psychological scars that prevent them from leaving the house and being productive, for example.
Not surprisingly, California’s laws on liability for dog owners are some of the strictest in the country. In California, if a dog bites you, the owner of the dog is liable. There only a few instances where the dog owner may not be held liable. However, these are rare occasions.
You may also be able to hold the owner of a dog liable if the dog chases you and you are involved in an accident as a result. This is especially if you can prove that the dog owner was negligent. For example, the owner of the dog can be shown to be negligent if they did not have the dog on a leash in an area where dogs should be on a leash.
Breed specific laws in California
California, like many other states, has specific laws that address different dog breeds. These laws are mostly targeted to breeds such as Pitbulls and dog breeds that are in the Pitbull line or that have Pitbull blood. This is understandable since Pitbulls, Rottweilers and related breeds are responsible for nearly 90% of the deaths caused by dog attacks
In California, dogs listed in the breed-specific law ordinance such as Pitbulls,should be licensed when they are four months or older. All dogs on this list must be neutered or spayed. The state of California even provides $50 vouchers to low-income families or families experiencing financial hardships to help them meet these requirements.
Home insurance and dog breeds
In many instances, dog owners will rely on their home insurance to cover damages resulting from dog attacks occurring in or around their property. However, many insurance providers set limits to what they cover and the dog breeds covered. Many insurance providers do not cover breeds of dogs that they consider aggressive such as Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Pitbulls and Rottweilers. Insurance providers that do cover some of these ‘aggressive’ breeds do so with special requirements.
If you have been injured by a dog, you will have to prove that the dog owner was negligent. If the dog had previously attacked another person, legal action can be taken against the dog owner without the need to prove negligence.
A dog owner can be held liable for economic damages such as medical bills or lost wages and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. There are instances where dog owners may be punished with fines and/ or jail time depending on the circumstances of the case.
It is important to contact a personal injury attorney to help you fight for compensation no matter what dog breed attacked you.