Irvine, Orange County Attorney for Dog Bites

Aggressive Dog Inland Empire

Liability of Animal Owners When Their Animals Inflict Injury

Under what circumstances is the owner of an animal responsible for a personal injury it inflicts?

Every year many people — not only mail carriers! — are injured by dog bites. Injuries by other domesticated or wild animals also occur, albeit not as frequently. If you suffer an injury inflicted by an animal, you may have legal recourse to be reimbursed for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

It is s important for anyone who has suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite or other animal attack to have a highly competent attorney, since the laws surrounding responsibility are complex and vary from state to state. At Advocate Law Firm, we are dedicated to ensuring that you recover any and all damages you deserve. We collect no legal fee unless we win your case. Our attorneys handle personal injury cases involving dog bites throughout Southern California including Irvine, Orange County, Anaheim, Inland Empire, and San Diego.

Varying Scenarios Result in Varying Consequences

The law may or may not hold the owner of an animal responsible for injuries it inflicts, depending on:

  • Where and under what circumstances the event took place
  • Whether the animal is known to have a dangerous propensity
  • Whether the animal’s dangerous propensity is common to it species or breed
  • Whether the owner is aware of the animal’s dangerous propensity

If, for instance, the person who suffers the injury is trespassing on the owner’s property, the animal’s owner is usually not assessed as being at fault. This is true whether the animal in question is a pet, such as a dog, cat or a “domestic animal,” such as a cow or pig. Nonetheless, the owner of a watch dog is responsible for posting warning signs since watch dogs are considered “trained to harm.”

Strict Liability for Dog Bites

Strict liability means that the defendant is liable although he or she did not intend harm or engage in actual negligence. Certainly, if an animal, whether pet or livestock, trespasses onto the property of another and does that person harm, strict liability applies. Strict liability also holds for damage to property. In other words, if a pet or livestock animal wanders into a neighbor’s yard and bites, kicks, or scratches a member of the neighbor’s family, or if that animal tears down a trellis, uproots a flower bed, or breaks a lawn chair, the owner of the offending animal is strictly liable.

“One Free Bite”

Much depends on the whether the owner of the animal should have reasonably foreseen danger. This is manifest in the “free one-bite rule” in some states. This regulation “forgives” the first bite of an animal that has otherwise been well-behaved. In such cases, the law assumes that the owner could not have reasonably assumed that this animal would be dangerous. Nonetheless, “one bite” actually translates into any aggressive behavior. The owner of a dog that is known to growl or snap, for instance, is presumed to be alert to the dog’s propensity to be dangerous.

Other Possible Factors

Other Factors

Other miscellaneous factors may apply, for example:

  • If the offending animal belongs to a species known to be potentially dangerous, such as a snake, and the owner warns others of this propensity, the owner is not strictly liable.
  • If an animal with no history of inflicting injury and is teased, taunted or hurt by the visitor, these facts will typically be taken into account.
  • If the animal is generally known to have a dangerous propensity, it makes no difference that the owner believes this particular animal to be friendly and tame. The owner remains liable for the animal’s behavior.

Clearly, liability in cases of dog bites or other animal attacks is a complicated matter. This is why it is essential to have a clear-headed lawyer with precise knowledge of personal injury law handle your case.  Our attorneys handle personal injury cases involving dog bites throughout Southern California including Irvine, Orange County, Anaheim, Inland Empire, and San Diego.