Dog Bite Victims – Good Case?

By December 17, 2009 February 16th, 2018 Personal Injury

We are often asked what factors we use to evaluate if our firm will represent a person who has been bitten by a dog. Our analysis in brief is:

What We Need to Know

  1. Type of dog
  2. How the attack occurred
  3. Who was in control of the dog when the attack occurred
  4. The age of the person attacked

Good Cases vs. Bad Cases

In California there are 3 ways to establish liability. We do not want to take a case that has no basis for liability.

1. The owner has reason to know the dog is dangerous.

The dog has attacked before

The dog shows aggressive behavior

The dog is, by law, considered dangerous. * This makes for a good case-If the attack was made by any of the following, we want the case:

  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Akita
  • The dog is trained to fight

2. Negligence

The owner had a duty to control the animal in that particular situation. Please see the attachment for case law on this. I know what you are thinking….but no, there is not ALWAYS a duty to “control” the animal…it is entirely situational. A good case has facts that CLEARLY show someone should have done something to secure the safety of others and just totally neglected to care.

3. Statutory: California code 5-2.112 and civil code 3342 provides that any person who owns, controls, has custody of any animal is liable for injuries caused by the animal. They must take reasonable steps and precautions to protect others from harm. (THIS IS CALIFORNIA ONLY).

Pain and Suffering: Under the statutory liability in California, the client may get medical bills paid for, but they are not going to offer pain and suffering unless there is some other bases for liability (ie; reasons to know the dog is dangerous and/or negligence).

One Bite States: (ie; Oregon) The dog gets a get out of jail free card. Ridiculous. No priors=no liability.

What Insurance Companies Want to Argue: That there is no prior bites, and no negligence. You can try to argue the statute, but in reality, a good case is one involving a dangerous dog and/or negligence.

4. Landlord Liability: A landlord can be liable for a tenants pet only if the landlord neglected some duty. For example, the landlord failed to repair a fence and the dog broke out and attacked someone. Or, the landlord knew the tenant had fighting dogs and was training them in that neighborhood and failed to report it or eliminate the dangerous situation from his property.

5. Defenses: If the dog was provoked, the victim caused the attack, or the victim knew the dog was dangerous and the likelihood of attack but assumed the risk–we dont want the case.

6. Children: Under 5 are incapable of provoking, causing, or assuming the risk

To receive a full detailed evaluation of your specific fact pattern please phone our office at 800-300-0001.