Residents of West Covina deserve to walk through their neighborhoods safely and without having to fear being bitten by an unsupervised dog. The State of California recognizes the importance of keeping dogs leashed and controlled and has established dog bite laws to document dog owners’ responsibilities and how victims can legally respond if bitten.
If you have been bitten by an uncontrolled dog, Simmrin Law Group is here to fight for you. A West Covina dog bite lawyer from our firm will hold irresponsible dog owners accountable and work to get you the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Dog Owner Laws in West Covina
California is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means the victim does not have to prove the dog owner acted negligently to recover damages. Even if the dog owner took certain precautions to prevent an attack, that owner can still be held responsible for injuries the dog causes.
For example, if a dog owner invites friends over for dinner and puts the dog in its crate to avoid any incidents, that owner is still responsible if the dog makes an escape and causes a dinner guest injury. However, other criteria must be met for victims to successfully pursue a settlement:
- The dog bite has to have happened in a public place or
- On property the victim was lawfully on
Then, the victim must be able to prove:
- The defendant owned the dog
- The dog bite or attack caused injury
- The dog bite or attack was a significant factor in subsequent injuries. For example, a dog latched onto a person’s pant leg, causing them to fall and injure themselves.
An experienced dog bite lawyer in West Covina can help compile the evidence you need to prove these elements and hold the dog owner accountable.
Public Property and “On Property Lawfully”
A public place is any location accessible to the general public. Public places include sidewalks, parks, and dog-friendly business establishments during open hours, for example.
Under the law, a person is on property lawfully if:
- They have been invited to the property by the owner by express or implied invitation
- They are performing a legal duty, under state or federal law, on the property. For example, mail carriers, delivery persons, and meter readers
Keep in mind invitations to private property can be limited. A person may invite you to their property but tell you not to enter certain areas. If you trespass into a forbidden area and are bitten by a dog kept in that location, the owner is likely not responsible for your injuries.
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving West Covina, call (310) 896-2723
Exceptions to the Strict Liability Statute
If dog owners can demonstrate that an exception applies to their dog-bite situation, they may not be held strictly liable for the victim’s compensation. Civil Code 3342 documents these exceptions.
Victims who enter private property without permission or unlawfully cannot hold dog owners responsible for injuries sustained unless they can prove the owner was negligent and knew the dog was dangerous.
If victims are injured by dogs who are “on the job” either as part of law enforcement or other government agency, the government is not responsible for injuries sustained if:
- The dog was intentionally provoked or harassed and defended itself.
- The dog was working to apprehend a person under reasonable suspicion of engaging in criminal activity.
- The attack occurred during a criminal investigation or warrant execution.
- The dog was protecting a police officer or other person.
These exceptions do not apply if the dog attacks an innocent bystander. A West Covina dog bite attorney from Simmrin Law Group will navigate the laws and exceptions for you, so you can have the best chance for a successful outcome to your case.
This exception is also known as the “veterinarian’s rule.” Veterinarians and kennel workers are considered to “assume the risk” of potential dog bites simply by taking jobs in their respective fields. While these personnel cannot pursue a settlement under the strict liability statute, they may decide to prove the owner’s negligence through a personal injury claim.
Dog owners can defend against strict liability by showing the defendant was partly to blame for the incident under California’s comparative fault system. If the victim is found to hold partial fault for the attack, for annoying, harassing, provoking, hitting, or otherwise antagonizing the animal, any compensation owed by the dog owner will be reduced according to the victim’s percentage of fault.
West Covina Dog Bite Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
Dog Bites vs. Dog-Related Injuries Under the Dog Bite Statute
Statute 3342 refers specifically to incidents involving dog bites. If a victim is injured by a dog in another way, they will need to pursue other avenues for compensation than the strict liability law.
For example, if a cyclist is chased by a dog and ends up crashing, or if a person is scratched by an excited or agitated dog, those victims would need to pursue compensation by proving the dog owner did not use reasonable care to control their dog and were negligent. A personal injury lawyer from Simmrin Law Group can build this case.
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A West Covina Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help Get the Compensation You Deserve
Dog bite victims face a variety of consequences depending on the severity of the bite. A dog bite attorney in West Covina will evaluate your specific situation and make an appropriate settlement demand. No two cases are the same, but it is typical for victims to seek coverage for:
- Medical expenses: these may include reconstructive surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and psychological counseling.
- Financial losses: including wages lost to missed days at work or future earnings if you cannot work or earn at the same capacity as you could prior to your injuries.
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress: including damages for disfigurement, as dog bites can leave victims with permanent scarring, the emotional trauma caused by the incident, and diminished quality of life. Though these damages can be difficult to quantify, an experienced West Covina dog bite lawyer will calculate an adequate amount.
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Hold Dog Owners Accountable
Owning a dog is a responsibility. When a dog hurts someone, the dog owner bears responsibility under California law. To ensure you get the compensation you deserve after sustaining a dog bite, contact a skilled West Covina dog bite lawyer from Simmrin Law Group for a free case evaluation and the opportunity to get the settlement you deserve.
Call or text (310) 896-2723 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form