Dog Bite Lawsuit Information
A ‘criminal’ action against the dog-owner will likely not be as effective and far-reaching as a ‘civil’ suit. A dog owner that allows their dog to bite a person may be charged with a crime for violating the law. Part of that criminal conviction process might include ‘restitution’. However, in order to receive restitution, there generally must be a “restitution hearing,” which you (the victim) will have to participate in. Additionally, restitution likely will not provide you (the victim) everything you are entitled, such as ‘lost wages’ or ‘mental anguish’ or ‘pain and suffering’ reimbursement. Therefore, the victim must file a ‘civil’ suit against the dog-owner if s/he is to be made whole.
San Diego pet-ownership laws
Per San Diego County Code section 62.669, and/or California Penal Code section 597, dog owners have a legal duty to control their dogs by voice, by electronic containment system, or keep their dogs restrained by leash, fence or other enclosure. Proof that a dog owner has failed to abide by this/these laws may be offered as proof of the dog owner’s duty, as well as the dog owner’s breach of that duty owed.
AWAY FROM HOME OR OUTSIDE THE HOME
Dog owners must restrain their dogs using a hand-held leash that is no more than than six (6) feet in length. Additionally, the person that is holding the leash (whether it be the dog’s owner or person left in charge of the dog) must be capable of controlling the dog.
Was the dog properly vaccinated?
Per San Diego County Code section 62.620, and California Health and Safety Code section 121690, the owner of every dog older than three (3) months has the legal duty to vaccinate the dog against rabies. The dog must be vaccinated before it is five (5) months old.
Has the dog been declared a “Dangerous dog? Or a “Public Nuisance Animal?
Typically, if a dog has attacked or bitten someone or committed some other violation, it is reported to County Animal Services and an investigation is opened. The dog may have been impounded and the case referred to the Dangerous Dog Task Force. Per San Diego County Code section 62.674, if sufficient cause was found, the dog owner may have been notified in writing that the department intended to declare the animal a Dangerous Dog or Public Nuisance Animal. The owner would have been given the ability to request a hearing to contest that designation. Depending on the findings of Animal Services, Animal Services may have imposed certain restrictions on the dog owner such as:
- Obtaining and maintaining liability insurance,
- Building or purchasing specific fencing and/or using certain types of restraint and muzzling,
- Getting the dog micro-chipped and photo ID’d,
- Altering the dog, or
- Requiring special registration of the dog, or possibly other restrictions.
What you need to know
In law, there are generally 3 levels of culpability (i.e. – fault): Intentional, Negligent and Strict Liability. The dog bite laws in California convey strict liability upon animal owners. This usually means that, upon a showing that the defendant owned the dog, the elements that must be met in a dog-bite case (without an overly tenuous connection) are ‘causation’ and ‘damages’. Additionally, the dog (and the damage it causes) may be covered under the Homeowner’s insurance policy of the dog owner. If not, the dog-owner themselves could be personally liable for the damage the dog causes.
You Should Talk With Us As Soon As Possible
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog and is injured, every second counts. Delaying speaking with an attorney can hurt your case. You might have said something, or failed to say something that could weaken your case. Additionally, you may have done something, or failed to do something, that may weaken your case. If you wait too long to speak with an attorney, particular events may occur (or fail to occur), or statements may be made (or fail to be made) that will significantly affect your case and your ability to receive the compensation you deserve.