dog bite lawyer

Does Breed Matter in a California Dog Bite?

Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyers Explain Liability Based on a Dog’s Breed in California

One of the most traumatic types of personal injuries that a person could suffer is a dog bite or animal attack.  This is particularly true if a dog was a vicious type like a Rottweiler, Pit bulls, German Shepherd, or another large and powerful breed.  Each year in the United States there are approximately 4.7 million dog bitesApproximately 800,000 of those dog bites require medical care, some for serious or catastrophic injuries.  Our experienced dog bite lawyers in Los Angeles, California know that animal attack cases are more frequent and devastating that most people realize.

Unfortunately, dog bite cases can be more difficult and better defended than most personal injury lawyers realize too.  This is why victims of a California dog bite or animal attack need to call an experienced dog bite lawyer like ours at the Broadway Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA.  We know how to fight back against some of the largest homeowner’s insurance companies and defense law firms who try to protect dangerous dogs by not paying on a victim’s valid claim.  Learn how we can help you during a FREE consultation by dialing 213.344.0067.

Dog Bite Law in the United States

Generally, state have adopted one of three types of dog bite laws.  The first is known as a knowledge or one-bite rule.  In one-bite or prior knowledge states, an owner must know or should have known about a dog’s prior vicious propensities or proclivity to cause harm.  This is often established if a dog has bitten someone before, hence the name for the label “one bite” laws.

The second are strict liability laws, which means that a dog owner is automatically liable for a dog bite even if the owner did not know the dog could bit or cause injury to another.  In strict liability states, it does not matter if the owner knows or does not know about a vicious propensity.

The third type of laws are those which are a hybrid.  Some states allow for a vicious propensity/one-bite rule or negligence rule for the first bite, but if the owner knows a dog has bitten before it will be strict liability.  Other states only impose negligence, which means a victim will have to prove that an owner’s actions with the dog were reasonable.

California’s Dog Bite Statute

California has some of the strictest type of dog bite laws in the United States.  Under Civil Code section 3342, California adopted the strict liability standard.  This means that an owner or handler is automatically and strictly liable (absolute liability) where a dog or animal attacks or bites an individual.  It does not matter if the owner had knowledge or no knowledge of the dog or animal’s propensity or proclivity to attack.

Does a Dog’s Breed Matter in a Dog Bite Case?

Generally, no, a dog’s breed does not matter.  While many people make a big deal out of pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other infamous breeds, California law does not automatically make a breed more dangerous than another.

In fact, while pit bulls and Rottweilers are often considered the first and second most likely dog breeds to bite, some of the other top breeds to bite include the following:

  • Chihuahua – small but territorial and quick to snap
  • Cocker spaniel – calm dogs with a temper with bothered
  • Chow chow – stubborn and will bite to get you to back away
  • Husky – in excitement or behavioral 
  • Labrador retrievers – while playing or if neglected, abused, or bothered
  • Bichon frise – small but nippy and potentially with a complex
  • Maltese – small but snappy

Any breed of dog could bite or turn aggressive, especially when provoked, bothered, stepped on, or otherwise harassed.  Sometimes dogs could bite when they are not feeling well or are injured.  Other times dogs could bite when they are confronted with strangers or individuals they do not know well enough.  In any situation, a dog does not have to be a particularly breed to result in liability.  

Common Defenses in Dog Bite Cases

There are some common defenses in a dog bite case that an owner may try to use.  Most of the defenses are not legally sufficient or able to evade liability.  This is again because California has adopted a strict liability statutory scheme when it comes to dog bites.

However, there are some defenses that may work in a dog bite.  This includes some of the following:

  • You were an unforeseen trespasser backing the law
  • You provoked, attacked, or injured the dog
  • You attacked or injured the owner, and
  • Other fact-specific instances.

Usually Not Valid Defenses

There are many defenses that California defendants or insurance companies will try to use to get you to not file a lawsuit.  This is particularly true if you try to handle a claim by yourself.  Some of the most commonly rejected defenses used by adjusters or defendants include the following:

  • Did not know the dog could bite
  • It was during playtime 
  • The victim was a child
  • The victim was a dog owner and said he/she could watch the dog
  • The victim rang my door bell
  • The dog does not know the victim well enough
  • The victim moved too fast or was too loud around the dog
  • The victim stepped on the dog’s paw/tail
  • The dog did not bite but knocked down or jumped on the victim
  • The victim was acting reckless
  • The victim asked for it or was being aggressive with the dog, and
  • Other defenses that usually do not work under California law.

All Dogs Can Bite and Result in Liability: Learn How We Can Help Recover Compensation for You

Breed does not matter when it comes to a dog bite.  Any dog, from big to small or from aggressive to calm, can bite and result in liability for a dog owner.  Victims who suffer serious injuries as a result of a dog bite can recover compensation under California’s strict liability laws.  However, some defense lawyers and insurance adjusters will fight hard to prevent you from getting any compensation.  This is when you call our experienced dog bite lawyers at the Broadway Law Firm in Los Angeles, California to recover compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and other damages from an animal attack.  Learn how we can protect your rights to compensation during a FREE consultation by dialing 213.344.0067.

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