Your Legal Rights In A Dog Bite Case

High-profile cases involving animal and dog bites, which many times require experienced dog bite lawyers, hit the headlines once or twice a year. There are certain breeds that Americans have learned to approach cautiously (or not at all): bulldogs, pit bulls, boxers and Rottweilers (among others), for fear of being bitten or mauled.

If you, a loved one or even your own pet is bitten by a dog, the owner is liable according to California law. It is essential that you protect your rights and know your legal options. The dog bite attorneys at The Belli Law Firm stand ready to help you recover from your injuries and receive fair compensation.

Dog Bite Attorneys Explain Your Legal Rights If Bitten By A Dog Or Another Animal

Most states, including California, have "strict liability" laws that specifically address dog bites. In contrast to pure contributory negligence, strict liability dictates that the defendant in a dog bite case is liable for damages if his or her dog bites someone, whether or not the defendant could have prevented the animal attack or knew the dog was vicious.

Strict liability statutes relating to dog bites usually dictate that the defendant owes the plaintiff damages if the defendant's dog bit the plaintiff, the plaintiff was legally allowed to be on the property where the bite occurred, and the plaintiff did not provoke the dog. If, however, an individual is a "keeper" of the dog, but not an "owner" (say, a friend who was dog-sitting), then that individual is not liable for damages under California's strict liability statute. A keeper or handler may still be liable for civil damages if they were negligent in their handling or keeping of the animal. Dog bite attorneys will establish negligence on an owner's or keeper's part by demonstrating that he or she did not take reasonable measures to properly control the dog under the circumstances that led to the attack, and that this lack of caution caused the plaintiff's injuries.

Trespass is also a factor in dog bite cases. If the plaintiff was trespassing on the owner's or handler's property, then he or she may not be entitled to damages under California's strict liability statute. However, the plaintiff may still be able to file suit if it can be demonstrated that the owner or handler was negligent in confining or caring for the dog, and that negligence enabled the attack to take place.

Despite the vagaries and loopholes of strict liability statutes, they do make it easier to foresee a winning verdict. In states that have abolished the "one free bite rule," it's much easier for plaintiffs to prove an owner's negligence at trial. In cases where the strict liability statute clearly applies, defendants are more likely to settle before the case goes to trial.

Contact The Dog Bite Attorneys At The Belli Law Firm

If you or a loved has been bitten by a dog, the California dog bite attorneys at The Belli Law Firm can help you. Our competent legal team has assisted numerous dog bite victims. We have the expertise and legal knowledge to sort through the twists and turns of a dog bite case and win you a fair settlement. Call the personal injury attorneys at The Belli Law Firm today for a free initial consultation and a review of your case in our Mill Valley office. Call us at 415-579-3136 or fill out our contact form.