California Dog Bite Cases: You Better Keep an Eye on Your Pup
There is no doubt that Americans love their pets. Humans and dogs have been living together for tens of thousands of years. There is a saying that “a dog is a man’s best friend”.
I myself have three dogs; two Siberian Huskies and a good old fashioned American mutt I rescued from a pound.
Although a dog can be your best friend, a dog could become your worst nightmare if the dog bites and/or attacks a person.
In the state of California; Dog owners are strictly responsible for the actions of their dogs. In other words, if your dog bites a person, you are strictly responsible for all damages caused by the dog.
No matter how well trained your dog is, you never know when he will bite you. Even small breeds can cause bites that result in permanent scarring and significant damage.
It is your responsibility as a dog owner to ensure that your dog does not bite another person. You should always walk your dog on a leash; secure your garden and house so that the dog cannot escape and bite someone; and secure your dog in one room when he has visitors over. If you don’t take precautions when it comes to your dog, you could receive significant damages in a lawsuit if your dog bites someone.
In some cases, your owner’s insurance policy may cover you if your dog bites someone in your home or on your property. In some cases, it may not. If you have homeowners insurance that will cover a dog bite, that’s great, however in the end you’ll probably end up paying a higher premium for homeowners insurance, or your insurance will be canceled entirely. If you don’t have insurance, you may be trapped in a mass lawsuit in a lawsuit that you must pay for out of pocket.
There is another problem regarding dog bite cases that affects owners who rent their property to people who have dogs; A landlord can be held liable for his tenant’s dogs under the theory of negligence and premises liability. I have successfully handled cases against owners whose dogs bit a person.
Landlords are not strictly liable for dog bites caused by their tenants’ dogs, however, they could be held liable under the theory of negligence and liability if they knew or should have known that their tenants’ dogs were prone to being aggressive and/or bites people.
The conclusion is the following; love your dogs, enjoy your dogs, but be sure to keep your dogs under control at all times. The consequences of not doing so could be disastrous.
If you are a landlord, you may want to exercise caution when renting to people with dogs.
By Norman Gregory Fernandez, ESQ © 2006