Whether for protection or companionship, dogs tend to play a big role in the typical American family. With over 43 million Americans owning dogs, it’s no wonder why you see a dog in just about every other yard.
San Francisco just so happens to be the place to live for doting dog lovers. With luxury dog hotels, rooftop cocktail dog parties, dog massages, and even pet cemeteries, San Francisco is virtually a canine’s paradise.
Although dogs are touted as “man’s best friend,” it is important to be aware that a dog attack can happen at any time, with little to no warning, and for no real reason. Now, that doesn’t mean that all dogs are vicious animals, but sometimes even the smallest emotion of excitement can be overwhelming and cause a dog to lash out and bite a person. Regardless of the situation, if you have suffered from a dog bite, there is good news for you.
California Dog Owner’s Can Be Held Liable for Dog Bites
Owners of dogs have a certain responsibility that they are held to in regard to that ownership, and it just so happens that California has some of the toughest dog bite laws in the United States.
California Civil Code § 3342 states “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
According to this statute, an owner is liable in almost every instance where a dog bites another person. This means that the owner can be sued by the dog bite victim for damages such as medical expenses and lost wages. Of course, there are some limitations to this law. The “strict liability” statute states that the owner will be held responsible if the injured person was:
- bit by a dog
- was on public property
- was lawfully on private property
In addition to owners being held liable for dog bites, California also has laws on how a dog should be handled after the attack. After assessing the situation, law enforcement or animal control may file a petition for a hearing in court if they think the dog is vicious. At the court hearing, it will be decided whether the animal should be deemed a threat. If the court determines that the dog is potentially dangerous, then the owner must meet certain conditions, such as:
- Keeping the dog on a leash.
- Keeping the dog indoors.
- Keeping the dog in a fenced in yard.
If the owner violates these court-ordered conditions, they could be fined.