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California Laws Involving Dog Bites

Below is a basic breakdown of the laws in California that come into play when someone is bitten by a dog. These details are for informational purposes only. Sometimes, exceptions apply. Please rely on your attorney to determine whether an exception applies to your case. Only by consulting with a law firm can you be sure your rights are fully protected.

Dog Owners’ Duty of Care

California Civil Code section 3342 imposes strict liability on dog owners: “The owner of any dog is liable for damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place … regardless of the former viciousness of the dog, or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”

Under California law, dog owners have a duty to prevent their dogs from hurting people. When a dog owner acts carelessly and someone else is attacked or bitten, the injured person may file a claim to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more.

California Statute of Limitations

California limits the time to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for letting a dog bite someone. If someone’s dog bit you, you should not delay in contacting an attorney after you receive medical care. If the statute of limitations expires, your right to pursue a claim may be forever barred.

Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage

Homeowner’s insurance may cover the claim for the dog owner. However, some insurance companies now exclude ten potentially dangerous breeds from coverage, which may make financial recovery more difficult. The breeds most commonly excluded are:

  • Pit bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Chow chow
  • Presa Canario
  • Akita
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Wolf hybrids
  • Mastiff
  • Wolf
  • German shepherd

These purported exclusions make it very important to consult with an experienced attorney, as he or she may be able to overcome some insurance company defenses and still recover full damages.

Getting Legal Help

The first thing you should do after being bitten by a dog is see a healthcare professional. Once the situation is under control and you have received medical care, take photos of your injuries. An attorney can then help gather additional evidence and file a claim to seek compensation for your medical bills, time off of work, and other financial losses.

It’s important to know that if you’re recovering from a dog bite, the dog owner’s insurance company will likely be contacting you soon. An adjuster may try to resolve your claim before you know the full extent of your injuries. An attorney can ensure that you receive fair compensation for the financial burden this incident has caused you.

Contact our firm at (619) 238-1811 if you or a family member was bitten by a dog. CaseyGerry has the knowledge, expertise, and resources to help. We can explain your rights and what to expect in seeking legal recourse.

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