While some canines are deemed dangerous by insurance companies, the most docile dog, when provoked, can attack. Whether the incident is justified or not justified, the owner of the animal faces serious legal problems.

California law places strict liability on dog owners when the canine bites someone in a public place or lawfully in a private residence, including the dog owner’s dwelling. Non-bite injuries fall under negligence claims that mandate evidence of failure to use reasonable care. Criminal consequences are also possible.

Exceptions do exist in situations involving government agencies that include members of the military and police officers. In those professions, dogs are used in the course of criminal investigations and executing a warrant. Essentially, the attack is the result of the canine defending itself should the incident turn violent.

Designating dangerous dogs

California employs a much-needed dual classification to determine the consequences of the attack. A potentially dangerous dog acts in a way that mandates defensive actions to prevent injuries or a canine seriously injured or killed another animal, unprovoked and not on the owner’s property. Two incidents must occur within a three-year time span for the dog to be labeled potentially dangerous.

A vicious dog is one that severely injures or kills a human without provocation or a dog previously deemed dangerous that continues to display violent traits with an owner already aware of the dog’s designation as vicious.

Should a dog attack occur, victims should know that they have two years to file a claim. Handling it without legal representation ignores the complexities of dog bite laws in California. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney can provide guidance throughout the personal injury process.

By Maho | Prentice, LLP Attorneys at Law on March 9, 2021