Essential Advice in Dealing With Vicious Dogs

The most recent statistics reveal that in 2014 there were 42 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States. In California, further reports show that the largest number of animal attacks are due to pit bulls. If you happen to find yourself in a situation with a vicious dog, there are certain steps that can be taken to minimizing the potential damages in the event that dog bites do occur.

The following pieces of advice may help you avoid being bitten by a vicious dog. If possible, avoid dogs. If the dog is off leash, act as if the dog views you as a threat even if you are familiar with the dog. If you are approached by a roaming dog, the American Kennel Club recommends that you drape your arms over your chest, stand still, do not make eye contact with the dog, and if possible throw something to distract the dog’s attention. Also, realize that dogs naturally become startled when wakened, so avoid disturbing a sleeping dog and respect the animal’s personal space.

Understand California law. In accordance with California law, anyone who owns a dog is responsible for ensuring that the dog does not bite or cause injury to anyone else. Courts in California do not require plaintiffs to prove that the dog had a previous biting history or that the owner knew about the dog’s propensity to bite. Dog owners, however, do not owe a responsibility to protect trespassers against dog bites. Also, military or police dogs that bite while performing their duties are not subject to liability.

If a dog bite does occur, be sure to take the following steps:

  • Identify the Dog and its Owner. If at all possible, obtain the name and address of the individual who owns the dog. If the dog’s owner cannot be identified, you will likely be forced to go through a series of rabies shots to minimize potential risks.
  • Obtain Medical Care. Contact medical emergency personnel or have someone drive you to a hospital. Medical treatment is necessary if you are attacked or bitten by a dog.
  • File a Dog Bite Report. Once you have receive adequate medical treatment, file a dog bite report with the proper city or county authorities. This document initiates a paper trail for law enforcement.
  • Gather Information. If at all possible, identify the dog’s owner. Obtain the dog’s license information and any recorded information about prior attacks made by the dog.
  • Photograph Your Injuries. Photograph your injuries. Make sure that photographs are made periodically as the wounds continue to improve.
  • Contact an Attorney. Do not hesitate to contact a skilled and experienced attorney who can ensure that your dog bite case is handled in the proper manner and that you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

If you are bitten, attacked, or otherwise injured by a vicious dog, it is imperative that you follow the above mentioned steps to minimize the potential damages from the accident. It is also important that you do not hesitate to contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney today.

Dog Bite Liability in California

Dog bite liability laws vary from state to state. Many states have a “one free bite” policy, which does not hold the owner strictly liable if the dog has never bitten anyone and has never shown tendencies toward aggressive behavior. California has eliminated the “one free bite” policy. This means that a dog owner can be held strictly liable if their dog bites someone, even if it was the dog’s first bite or the dog never showed a tendency to bite. California’s dog bite liability is governed by California Civil Code Section 3342.

California’s Dog Bite Law

The law states that a dog owner will be subject to liability for damages caused by their dog if the damages were caused by a dog bite, and the person injured by the bite was in a public place or lawfully in a private residence. An exception exists for those bit by a dog involved in police and military work. This statute only applies to dog bites – no other injury that may have been caused by the dog. In situations where an injury is caused by a dog but was not a bite, California negligence rules would apply.

The statute of limitations (deadline to file a lawsuit) to file a personal injury claim, including a dog bite claim, is two years. This means that the injured plaintiff has two years after the bite occurred to file the lawsuit. The court will not hear a lawsuit filed after the two-year deadline has passed.

Strict Liability

For dog bite injuries, California is a strict liability state. Strict liability means that a dog owner is liable for the actions of her dog, even if she claims that she did not know that the dog had tendencies to act aggressively. Dog owners are therefore responsible for all damages resulting from a dog bite, so long as the person injured was in a public place or on private property without trespassing.


A dog owner can raise the defense that the injured party was trespassing when the dog bite occurred. An injured party who was trespassing on private property at the time of the bite injury may not be able to collect damages for their injuries. If the dog was carrying out duties for the government or military at the time of the bite, the government or military may raise the defense that the dog was working at the time, or that the injured party provoked the dog. The defenses available to the government or military officials only apply if the dog was carrying out their duties in that capacity at the time of the bite.

Contact the Leslie Legal Group

Dog bites are serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, contact the Leslie Legal Group. Our experienced attorneys can assist you with your claim against the dog owner. We can help you receive compensation for the expenses related to the attack, including medical bills and emotional distress that has resulted. Contact us today for a free consultation.