The legal system in California allows dog bite victims the option of pursuing legal action under both statutory and common law. The specifics are sufficiently complicated to make hiring a dog attack injury attorney a highly sensible thing. Following is a look at the liabilities assigned by the two main laws in the state of California.
California Statutory Law
The dog bite statute of California forms Section 3342 of its civil code, and assigns strict liability unto dog owners in cases where their dog bites someone, whether on private or public property. The strictness of this liability is such that the dog owner cannot cite reasonable restraining of their dog as an excuse. In other words, if a person owns a dog and this dog bites someone, legal actions may be brought against the former.
It is not necessary for the dog to have a history of viciousness for the owner to be assigned legal liability; even the first time that it bites someone, the victim can claim damages. The only cases where this does not apply are if the injured person provoked the dog prior to the incident, or was trespassing while being bitten.
Common Law of Negligence
Common law is made by judges, as opposed to the legislature. In California, common law for dog bites stipulates that owners take reasonable care to ensure that people are protected from their dog. Failing this, they can be litigated against, based on injuries caused by the dog. Negligence in this case is based on the circumstances, as well as the ways in which a reasonable person would have restrained the dog. If the owner breaks a regulation, that proves they were negligent.
One example is violating any “leash law”, such as when taking the pet for a walk. Under California’s statute, negligence cases are generally more complex than strict liability cases, but cover more than just bites. If, for instance, a dog knocked you over or badly scratched you, a negligence lawsuit could be filed.
Even municipalities pass their own laws when it comes to dog bites, with some of these granting bite victims with greater rights than the common law or the state statute. It is best to hire a competent dog attack injury attorney to get help figuring out the damages you could legally receive in a dog bite settlement.