California’s “Strict Liability” Dog Bite Rule

California is one of several U.S. states that has “strict liability” for dog bites. This rule can have a significant effect on how you and your skilled San Diego County dog bite injury attorney decide to approach your case after a dog bite occurs.

In “strict liability” dog bite states like California, an owner may be held liable for a dog bite even if the dog has never bitten before or the owner had no reason to believe the dog would act aggressively toward others.

Dog Bites

She just wanted to pet the doggy…
  • Your toddler is severely injured when she approaches a loose dog in a Chula Vista park. The dog bite leaves her with severe facial scarring and lost vision in one eye.
  • Your grandfather is hospitalized with a broken hip and cracked ribs after a dog on a leash lunges and knocks him down on an Escondido, California sidewalk.
  • You are delivering furniture to a house in San Marcos, CA. When the homeowner opens the door, her dog lunges at you, clamps down on your leg, and doesn’t leg go until the ligaments in your knee are severed.

When dogs are not properly trained or restrained, or if they are under stress, even dogs that know you can bite, injure, and possibly kill.

When a dog bites, the shock and trauma of being attacked can be as serious for the victim as the physical injury. When you are overwhelmed by medical procedures and numbed by shock, it can be hard to get things straight. You may need a lawyer to help you recover compensation for your losses, but you will also need a friend who can help you better understand your situation and lend the support you need.

Our attorneys can give your case the personal attention it deserves.

People often assume that Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and a few other breeds are the most dangerous dogs, but any dog can become dangerous depending on the situation.

  • Dogs that are not properly socialized…
  • Dogs that are frightened, injured, or ill…
  • Dogs that are overprotective, high-strung, or simply surprised…
  • Dogs whose aggressive behavior has been encouraged by the owner…

Any dog, of any breed, can bite or attack. According to California Civil Code Section 3342, in most dog bite cases the owner of the dog is liable for any damages, regardless of whether the dog has shown vicious behavior in the past.

Dog owners can be negligent or reckless in several ways, including:

  • Training the dog to attack, kill, or otherwise behave aggressively
  • Failing to socialize the dog or correct aggressive behavior
  • Failing to properly enclose or restrain the dog
  • Failing to react appropriately to circumstances that may lead to a dog bite.

For example: A dog owner allows a large dog to run loose in a San Diego park where many small children are playing. Small children are at eye level with a large dog, and may surprise a dog by trying to kiss or hug it. A responsible owner should keep the dog restrained and monitor its interaction with the children. Otherwise, a child may end up with serious facial injuries and permanent scarring.

Dog attack fatalities are extremely rare, but they do happen. Research compiled by the National Canine Research Council shows that an average of one or two fatal dog attacks occur every year in California. The same research strongly suggests that in most cases the owner of the dog has been reckless or negligent in training and/or securing the dog. In some cases dogs have been trained to kill. Since roughly 1970, at least ten California dog owners have been convicted of involuntary or voluntary manslaughter in the wake of a dog bite fatality.

In April 2009, a pack of dogs attacked two horses and killed two pet dogs in a series of attacks in North County. California Civil Code 3341 states that if a dog kills, worries, or wounds a livestock animal, the owner of the dog is liable for damages. If the dog is caught in the act, it is legal for the livestock owner to kill the dog.

Never tease a strange dog or act aggressively toward it. Dogs will bite when provoked, and when a dog has clearly been provoked into biting, the owner is not liable for damages. For more tips on how to avoid dog bites, see the County of San Diego’s pet care and behavior tips.

Dog bite victims aren’t just physically injured. An animal attack can cause lasting sensations of fear and panic, from general anxiety to a specific fear of dogs.

We can help you take control and start down the road to recovery. Our attorneys will fully explain every aspect of your dog bite case and will even help you find a medical doctor or a therapist if necessary. You will feel more confident and in control when you are fully educated about your case and able to make informed decisions.

California Dog Bite Injuries: Know the Facts

Dog bite injuries can cause serious physical harm and an overwhelming amount of pain and fear, especially for young children who may come away with a long-term fear of dogs or other animals. Understanding the statistics surrounding dog bite injuries is the first step in protecting yourself and those you love from harm.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 800,000 people in the U.S. need medical treatment for a dog bite each year. Just under half, or about 386,000, need emergency room or hospital treatment for their injuries.

Infant Killed after Dog Attack in Lemon Grove

An eight-month-old boy died after being attacked by at least one pit bull in Lemon Grove around 5 p.m. on June 14. According to 10 News, the incident happened in the boy’s crib at the family’s home on 3000 block of West Street near North Avenue, where their three male pit bulls also resided.

Animal Control removed all three canines, ages three to five years old, from the scene. Police are still unsure about how many dogs attacked the boy and why. However, a neighbor mentioned that two of the pit bulls had killed two cats in the neighborhood. A thorough examination will determine whether the dogs are aggressive and if they will be euthanized.

It is devastating that the mother lost her only son to a tragedy that could and should have been prevented. Dog attacks on small children are especially vicious because children are helpless and unable to defend themselves.

According to statistics, there were 31 fatal dog attacks in the year 2011. Over the past year, several other pit bull attacks have been reported in the San Diego area, including the death of an elderly Paradise Hills woman.

Under California law, a dog owner can be held liable for personal injuries caused by his or her pet. California’s Civil Code Section 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.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack because of a careless owner, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced San Diego dog attack attorney, who will hold the negligent dog owner liable. For a free assessment of your case, contact our San Diego personal injury office.

Newhall Toddler Seriously Injured In Dog Attack

A 5 year-old toddler, Jose Sadino, was seriously injured in a dog attack at a Newhall apartment complex on June 11, 2010. According to the news stories, a vicious pit bull jumped out of a window and started attacking Jose who was playing with other children outside the apartment complex. Sadino’s mother, along with a few neighbors, intervened and made the dog go away. Los Angeles Sheriff’s officers took the pit bull into custody to determine if it had a prior bite history and whether the owner will face any criminal charges.

Jose Sadino sustained serious injuries, but thankfully none of them are expected to be life-threatening. The owner of the pit bull may be held liable for the injuries caused and may have to compensate for the expenses involved. Clearly, the owner should have made sure that the pit bull was securely tied and that it was restrained. Dog owners have an absolute duty to make sure that their animals do not injure or kill others. Further, in a civil justice context, dog owners can be held strictly liable for any damage or injury caused by their dog.

We sympathize with Jose Sadino’s family and wish him a complete recovery soon. We hope that his wounds heal and that his scars, if any, can be treated and minimized. Jose Sadino’s parents can seek compensation for their medical expenses and suffering from the pet owner if this accident occurred due to his/her negligence. People who are injured in a dog attack need to know that they have certain legal rights that could help them come out of the accident, financially.

Orange County Girl Injured In Vicious Dog Bite Incident

A dog bite attack in Lake Forest on May 19, 2010, left a six-year-old girl seriously injured. The dog, which was described as a pit bull mix or a boxer, attacked the girl when she was playing in the driveway of her home. According to police, the dog pushed the child to the ground and began biting her fiercely.

The mother of the girl was coming out of her house with her infant child and her 14-year old son at the time of the attack. Despite her efforts and the help of a neighbor, the dog would not let go until her older brother jumped on the dog and punched it until it let go. The mother took all her children inside only to emerge with a handgun and began chasing the attacking animal. She chased the dog and shot it while it was on the porch. The dog survived the gunshot, but the girl sustained serious personal injuries including several bites on her leg, body, and face. The Police are currently looking for the dog owner to investigate why the dog was acting violently and why he was off leash and unsupervised at the time of the accident.

We hope that the young girl comes out of the shock and pain that this vicious attack and is not left with severe physical and emotional scars. Dog bite attacks can be extremely traumatic to anyone—people are hardwired to generally like dogs and it is scary when they turn and injure a person. However, as traumatic as it is for an adult, it is infinitely more traumatic for a child. Dog owners need to know that under California’s Dog Bite Statute, they are strictly liable for any damage or injuries that their dog causes to another person provided that the injury victim is lawfully on the property at the time of the attack.

Pit Bulls Maul Baby, San Diego Mother Prosecuted for Neglect

Carrie McKinney, a 22-year old San Diego mother lost custody of her 7-month old baby boy and possibly will face criminal charges for neglect. Carrie left her baby boy strapped in a carrier on the floor at her friend’s place in Riverside County with two dogs. The dogs, a 5-year old pit bull and an 8-month old pit bull mix both females, bit the boy in the groin area and ripped apart the baby’s testicles. The baby has been admitted at Loma Linda University Medical Center for medical and surgical care and is with Child Protective Services. The owner of the pit bulls has agreed to euthanize the dogs.

Our office wishes the baby a quick recovery and a healthy life ahead. It is never advisable to leave babies unattended and the risk increases dramatically when there are dogs, especially dangerous dogs like pit bulls, or other animals around. Parents must be very careful when leaving their babies unattended, which can lead to serious and fatal injuries to their loved ones.

Protect Yourself and Your Family from San Diego Dog Bite Injuries

Most people associate “dog bite injuries” with strange dogs or with dog breeds raised to guard buildings and people, such as Rottweilers or pit bulls. However, any dog may bite any human being, and even the bite of a small dog can cause serious injuries.

Help protect yourself and your family from dog bites by following these tips for socializing with dogs.

  • When meeting a strange dog, stand still and allow the dog to see and sniff you before attempting to touch or pet it. If the dog growls or backs away, do not try to follow or touch it. Always ask a dog’s owner, if possible, before offering your hand to a dog to sniff or trying to pet it.
  • If you are approached by a strange dog, do not run away. Stand still and avoid making direct eye contact with the dog, as the dog may interpret this as aggression. If you are knocked to the ground, curl up in a ball and protect your face, head, and neck as much as possible.
  • Before adopting a dog, talk to a veterinarian or licensed breeder about which breeds would be best for your family. Spend time with the new dog before bringing it into your home. If any member of the family is afraid of dogs, do not adopt one; wait until the family member has learned more about dogs and is no longer afraid of them.

Dog bites can cause serious fear, pain and suffering, and serious injuries. If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog, please don’t hesitate to call an experienced San Diego dog bite injury attorney. We will help you understand your legal rights and protect your family’s needs. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation by phone.

Dangerous Pit Bull Dog on the Loose in University City Neighborhood of San Diego

Last Friday evening San Diego police warned University City residents of a dangerous pit bull on the loose. The pit bull attacked another dog at the University Gardens neighborhood park on Governor Dr. at around 5:30 p.m.

A San Diego police officer that responded to the dog attack was also attacked by the pit bull. The San Diego officer shot the pit bull, but it then fled into the canyon nearby. A San Diego police helicopter helped officers search for the pit bull and warned University City residents of the dangerous dog on the loose. San Diego police did not find the dog that evening and Animal Control continued the search on Saturday.

Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and Wolf Hybrid Dog Bites are Still Rampant in San Diego

Just take one look at the website DogsBite.org and you will be bombarded with stories about Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and Wolf Hybrid attacks. Just recently, in Texas, two adults got their eyes ripped out by pit bulls in a vicious dog attack.

Many times these dog attacks can be pretty gruesome and one of the scary things is that these attacks happen just as often on both adults and children. The combination of the three breeds amount to

* 77 percent of attacks that cause bodily harm
* 73 percent of dog attacks on children
* 83 percent of attacks on adults
* 70 percent of attacks that result in fatalities
* 77 percent that results in maiming

It is a myth that, in California, a dog owner is only responsible for his dog’s actions if the owner was negligent or irresponsible. In fact, California’s dog bite statute holds owners nearly “strictly liable”–meaning responsible even though they may have acted carefully–for their dog’s actions so long as the victim was legally allowed to be where the dog bite occurred (in other words, not a burglar, etc.).

Now, not all dogs of these breeds are dangerous. But Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Wolf Hybrids all have a higher propensity to be dangerous, which, when coupled with lax, weak, timid, or just irresponsible owners lead to the dogs losing control of their aggressive natures. Regardless, when a dog of any breed attacks, it is not man’s best friend and it is very savage in asserting its’ dominance over its’ victim.

If you or a neighbor have been involved in a dog attack or San Diego dog bite, please contact the San Diego dog bite lawyers to hold their owners accountable for their irresponsibility.

Escondido Dog Bite Attack Leaves Man Seriously Injured

A 56-year old man was badly bitten in a San Diego County dog bite attack on February 16, 2010, by a pair of aggressive dogs, one of which has a history of biting. This dog bite accident took place in a West Escondido gated community.

The victim, Tom Atkinson, said he was finishing a jog on Rock View Glen in the Emerald Heights development when he noticed two loose pit-bull mix dogs growling at a neighbor and his leashed dog. He joined the neighbor and fought off the dogs. However, as Atkinson continued up the street, the dogs turned around and charged. He was bitten several times by the pair of animals, leaving him with one bad bite to the forearm that required stitches to close the wound and another deep bite to the thigh.

One of the dogs was impounded by a San Diego County Animal Control Officer but was later released to the owner, who promised to keep it on a 10-day quarantine. The other dog also was allowed to stay with the owner but was not quarantined. There may be an administrative hearing to determine whether the dogs are potentially dangerous under the law.

Our office wishes for a speedy recovery for Tom Atkinson. We are indeed glad more serious harm was not done! Some of you may know from prior posts that I am not a fan of breed specific dog laws, particularly those that target Rottweilers or Pit Bulls. While these breeds are most commonly involved in dog bite attacks, it is my own belief that these attacks are the fault of poor owners who are attracted to owning these breeds due to their menacing appearance and strong physiques. Certainly, if you own either of these breeds, you must be a strong and dominant owner—more so than if you own another, less physically imposing breed. Dogs are pack animals and will submit to a pack leader that it respects. Respect, for dogs, comes from an owner who has strong mental discipline and will discipline their pet when it gets out of line.

In this case, how could the owners of these dogs allow them to run free in this neighborhood? This is particularly true of the owner of the dog with the prior bite history. This is completely inexcusable. It is bad enough that Mr. Atkinson was attacked and severely wounded. However, what would have happened—as we normally see in these cases—if these dogs would have attacked a child? Typically, the result is massive traumatic injury and perhaps even death for the child who cannot defend itself against such strong animals. Dog owners must always be responsible, but even more so when they own potentially lethal breeds.

Protecting Yourself from Dog Attacks in San Diego

While dogs provide wonderful companionship to families and individuals every day around the world, man’s best friend can also pose a danger of bites that can leave long-lasting harm to a victim. Although these attacks are often sudden and unexpected, steps can be taken to protect yourself and your loved ones from a dog bite incident in San Diego, so follow these tips.

Preventing a Dog Bite

In order to prevent an attack when encountering a dog, follow these steps:

  • Do not interact with an unknown dog, and only interact with an animal when its owner gives permission.
  • Do not interact with canines that are eating, drinking, restrained, sleeping, resting, injured, very old, or with their puppies. They will naturally be more defensive and more likely to attack.
  • If in danger of an attack, prevent interaction with the animal and remain calm. Do not run away, as this will cause the dog to chase and attack you. Instead, stand still at a 90-degree angle to the dog, avoid eye contact, and slowly back away after it loses interest.

During a Dog Attack

If you are attacked by a dog, it is important to follow these tips in order to minimize injury and the duration of the attack:

  • Give the animal any loose items you have, such as jackets and bags, to distract them and keep them from biting you.
  • Put anything you can between you and the dog (tables, chairs, etc.) to stop it from getting close and biting.
  • Loudly and authoritatively yell commands such as “No” and “Stop,” which the dog may be trained to obey.
  • If you are knocked down, curl up on the ground with your legs tucked underneath you, head facing the ground, and hands behind your head and neck. This will minimize the damage that a dog can do while attacking.

While many dog attacks can be prevented every year, there are still many others that are unavoidable. When such attacks are the result of another’s negligence or reckless behavior, injured victims can seek compensation from the responsible party. If you or a loved one has been injured in such an incident, the San Diego dog bite injury attorneys can apply their years of experience to help you find compensation for your injuries. For more information on how we can aid you in your case, contact us.