Under California law, dog bites are taken very seriously. Unlike some states, which offer a “first bite” rule for dangerous dogs, California dog bite law is based on strict liability. If a dog bites you, even if it has never bitten someone else before, it is liable for the injuries it causes.
People who are bitten by dogs can suffer from a variety of injuries, including permanent scarring or disfiguration, infections, amputations, emotional trauma, and more. While dog bites are generally handled through California civil law, there are some cases involving dog bites that are considered criminal matters. These criminal charges can be in addition to a civil lawsuit. Generally speaking, it is up to state officials to determine whether they will charge the dog owner with a criminal offense.
Criminal Charges Are Filed by the State
If you or someone you love were attacked and bitten by a dog in California, your first course of action is to call the police and report the incident. Proper documentation alerts state officials of an animal that could be vicious and helps your case should you choose to file a civil lawsuit, or should a criminal lawsuit be filed. If you elect to file a civil lawsuit, keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time (known as a statute of limitation) to do so.
Vicious and Dangerous Dogs in California
California dog bites may fall under the category of criminal if the dog falls under the state’s legal definition of dangerous or vicious. According to state law, a dangerous dog has acted in an aggressive manner that caused another person to defend themselves at least two other times in the last 3 years while the dog wasn’t on its own property. What’s more, if the dog bites another person without being provoked, even if the injury wasn’t severe, it could be deemed dangerous. If the dog killed, bit, or injured another domestic animal at least twice during the last 3 years while it wasn’t on the owner’s property, it could also be deemed dangerous.
A dog may be considered vicious in California if the dog’s owner was convicted of an offense related to dog fighting, if the dog was aggressive and seriously injured or killed someone, or is listed as a dangerous dog and the owner has not followed the precautions listed by the Food and Agriculture Code.
What’s more, a dog owner could be charged with a felony — if a dangerous or vicious dog is allowed by its owner to roam free or the owner fails to provide reasonable care related to restraining the dog and the dog kills a person who took reasonable steps to protect themselves in that situation.
Financial Compensation for Dog Bites
Civil lawsuits can be filed against an owner if their dog bites someone and causes an injury. For a free, no obligation consultation about your dog bite case, contact the experienced attorneys at Ghozland Law Firm today.