Strict Liability for Dog Bites in California – What You Need to Know

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 1.54.52 PM.pngDogs can make great companions, but a dog bite can be a traumatic (or even fatal) injury event. Unfortunately, such events are not uncommon in California: as recently as 2014, the Los Angeles Times dubbed California the “dog bite capital” of the United States based on the number of insurance claims filed for dog bite-related injuries and losses.

In California, dog owners are held strictly liable for the injuries that these canine companions cause. This does not always mean that dog bite injury victims have an easy time recovering compensation, however.

What Does “Strict Liability” Mean?

In some states, dog owners are only held responsible for the injuries and harm caused by their dog if the owner “knows or has reason to know” of the dog’s vicious or destructive tendencies. In these states, dog owners are said to have “one free bite” before they are held legally responsible for dog bite injuries: this is because a dog owner generally does not have reason to know that his or her dog is aggressive until after the dog has attacked at least one person.

This is not the case in California: in other words, dog owners in California do not get “one free bite.” California law holds that the owner of a dog is held responsible for any harm or injury that the dog may cause, even if the dog has never attacked anyone previously and/or the dog owner has no reason to suspect his or her dog is vicious or aggressive.

Strict Liability Does Not Guarantee Recovery

This does not mean a person injured by a dog’s bite will automatically receive compensation for his or her injuries, however. A bite from a stray dog or a dog whose owner cannot be identified may not result in any compensation as there is no one who can be identified and held to account. Similarly, California’s strict liability dog bite laws will not allow compensation to be awarded to someone who antagonized the dog prior to the dog’s attack, including individuals who trespass on the private property of others.

When to Contact a California Dog Bite Lawyer

Many victims of dog bites are young children: dog bite attacks of children, or any dog bite to the face, neck, or other vulnerable area of the body should be treated at the local emergency room right away. As soon as possible, though, you and/or your loved one should contact Case Barnett Law for legal assistance and direction. Taking swift legal action after a dog bite helps ensure the dog responsible for your injuries – as well as the dog’s owner – can be promptly located. Case Barnett Law’s team of dedicated personal injury attorneys will also examine the attendant facts and circumstances of your case so that you can understand your rights and to what compensation you may be entitled.

Contact your Orange County dog bite lawyers today by calling Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or by completing the firm’s online contact form.

Alligator Attack At A Disney Resort May Result In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

As residents of Southern California we are all well aware of how popular Disneyland is. It is a local landmark that attracts vacationing families from all over the world, and for many of us is a place that evokes fond childhood memories. However, tragedy recently struck at the ‘happiest place on earth’ when a two-year-old child was attacked and killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando, Florida. Now, Disney is potentially facing a wrongful death lawsuit.

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What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When someone dies due to another party’s negligence or neglect, the deceased’s relatives are generally permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While wrongful death statutes vary slightly some state to state, most states (including California) have a law on the books that closely resembles Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. In Florida, the party that causes a victim’s death via a wrongful act, negligence, default, or a breach of contract shall be held liable for damages.

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Is Disney Liable?

According to the Huffington Post, Disney may potentially face a wrongful death lawsuit given that businesses are required to ensure that their premises are reasonably maintained. In this instance, the fatal alligator attack occurred around 9:00 p.m. at the edge of a lake located at the Disney World resort. The toddler was playing in approximately six inches of water when an alligator attacked and pulled him into the lake. The boy’s father jumped into the water in an effort to save his son but unfortunately was not able for force the alligator’s mouth open. The boy’s body was later found intact, and officials suspect that the cause of death was drowning.

While no amount of legal action or monetary compensation will bring the deceased toddler back, his family may be able to recover damages from Disney by filing a wrongful death claim. The family would need to show that Disney was aware of the alligators on its property and did not take appropriate steps to warn their guests of this known danger. According to an article published in People Magazine, the resort routinely removes alligators from its waterways. This seems to indicate that Disney was aware of their alligator problem before the attack occurred. The article also notes that the resort had a legal obligation to protect invitees from known dangers on the premises. If this case goes to court, the key question would likely be whether or not Disney adequately warned its guests about the danger posed by the alligators.

The Huffington Post notes that the resort did in fact have signage posted around the lake that stated “No Swimming Please”. However, this signage did not indicate that alligators may be present in the water. Disney did have at least one sign posted on the property that read “Please be aware of alligators in the lake”, but this sign was posted a few miles away from where the toddler was attacked. Although Disney is not required to keep their resort guests absolutely safe at all times, they do have a legal responsibility to warn of known dangers on the premises and the signs that were posted may not have been adequate to provide an appropriate warning.

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How Can We Help?

If you live in Southern California and are interested in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, or other personal injury claim, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm. Our personal injury lawyers are happy to discuss your legal options and can be reached at (949) 861-2990.

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