Most personal injury attorneys and police officers assume that private dog owners are fully at fault for their dogs attacking people. This is mostly due to a miscomprehension of “strict liability”. California is a “strict liability” state. In the context of dog bites, this means that few defenses apply, and controllers or owners of assaulting dogs never get off guilt-free. In other US states as well as nations, dog attack victims have to prove the animal was a known hazard.
Most of these places actually have a “one free bite rule” in place. In other words, a dog should have bitten a person one time, before there is reasonable proof it is a danger to public safety. The dog owner is strictly liable only after that point. Under negligence law, liability attaches only after such an event. However, even in these other states, dog owners lack immunity against litigation claiming a deliberate attack. So first and foremost, people have to know animal attacks are not the fault of their owner all the time. Due to this, they have to recognize when defenses apply, and when they do not.
When are Owners Responsible for their Pet
The bottom line is owners are just about always responsible for the actions of their pet. A dog owner, especially, has to be aware that when the dog bites someone, he or she can face a civil lawsuit.
Those who face possible civil procedures should think about consulting a dog attack lawyer with experience. The responsibility for the canine’s actions does not fall on its owner all the time. Any dog attack injury attorney, who is worth their salt, will tell you that this remains to be the case even after the animal bites someone. For example, there are a few instances when dog bites occur with justifiable cause.
Exceptions to Strict Liability
While these exceptions do apply to a particular situation, you must also note that every state in the US has specific dog bite statutes.
- The person was actually aware of the danger or was careless: If the victim knew beforehand that the animal might just bite, and opted to ignore the danger, or accepted the same, then its owner may not be guilty.
- Provoking a Dog: Whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally, provoking a dog means it can also be expected to keep itself from harm. Therefore, in this instance, the one who owns the dog may not be responsible.
- Trespassing: When an individual was bitten by a dog while they were trespassing or were in the process of an illegal activity, the owner of the dog may not be responsible. This actually remains a gray area of law in some respects. Earlier, juries had no sympathy at all for those trespassing to commit theft and got bitten. However, when kids or adults trespass without any harm intended, then it may have an altogether different outcome.