Dog Bite Cases In California – You Better Watch Your Pup

There’s no question that Americans love their pets. Humans and dogs have lived together for tens of thousands of years. There is a saying that “a dog is a man’s best friend.”

I have three dogs of my own; two Siberian huskies and an old-fashioned American mutt I rescued from a shelter.

While a dog can be your best friend, if a dog bites and/or otherwise attacks a person, a dog can become your worst nightmare.

In the state of California; dog owners are strictly accountable for the actions of their dogs. In other words, if your dog bites a person, you are strictly liable for all damage caused by the dog.

No matter how well trained your dog is, you never know when he’s going to bite. Even small breeds can cause bites that lead to permanent scarring and significant damage.

It is your responsibility as a dog owner to ensure that your dog does not bite another person. You must always walk your dog on a leash; secure your garden and house so that the dog cannot run away and bite someone; and secure your dog in a room when you have visitors at your home. If you don’t take precautions when it comes to your dog, you could be seriously harmed in a lawsuit if your dog bites someone.

In some cases, your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover you if your dog bites someone in your home or on your property. In some cases maybe not. If you have home contents insurance that covers a dog bite, that’s fine, but you’ll probably end up paying a higher premium for the home contents insurance policy, or your insurance will be canceled altogether. If you don’t have insurance, you could end up in a lawsuit with a huge judgment that you have to pay out of pocket.

There is another problem related to dog bite cases that affects landlords who rent out their property to individuals who own dogs; a landlord can be held liable for their tenant’s dogs on grounds of negligence, and the theory of premises liability. I have successfully handled cases against landlords whose tenant’s dogs have bitten a person.

Landlords are not strictly liable for dog bites caused by their tenants’ dogs, but they may be held liable under negligence and pande liability theory if they know or should have known that their tenants’ dogs tended to be aggressive and/ or to bite people.

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It boils down; love your dogs, enjoy your dogs, but be sure to control your dogs at all times. The consequences of not doing so can be disastrous.

If you are a landlord, you may want to be extremely careful when renting to people with dogs.

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, ESQ © 2006