Attacks by dogs have caused death, disfigurement, disability and psychological impairment. In certain situations, Negligence Law applies. In other situations, the law is different.
People who own dogs can be held responsible for the harm from a dog bite, no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their dogs. To prove liability, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owned the dog; that the dog bit plaintiff while he or she was in a public place or lawfully on private property; that the plaintiff was harmed; and that the dog was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's harm. CACI 463.
CACI are the approved jury instructions from the Judicial Council of California. Jury instructions are read to the jury by the judge and establish the law the jury must follow in deciding the case. A partner of Cheong, Denove, Rowell, Bennett & Karns has been formally recognized as one of the attorneys who assisted the task force in the preparation of these jury instructions.)
When the dog bites someone, it is no defense that the dog had never shown prior viciousness or that the dog was on a leash. It is no defense that the defendant wasn't negligent. As with Products Liability, the law imposes strict liability for the harm that was caused. It is not necessary that the skin be broken in order for the statute to apply.
Dog Attacks Where the Animal Does Not Bite
Dogs have caused serious head and orthopedic injuries, even when they haven't bitten the victim. These injuries usually occur when the dog knocks a person down, or the person falls while running from or avoiding the dog. Strict liability does not apply. In those situations, Negligence Law applies.
Ordinarily, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent. However, if the city where the injury occurred had a leash law and the injury occurred because the dog was not leashed, negligence is presumed.
Dog was provoked by plaintiff;
Dog didn't bite the plaintiff;
Plaintiff was not lawfully on private property;
It wasn't the defendant's dog;
Plaintiff was contributorily negligent.
Dog attacks are traumatic. Bringing a dog attack case to trial, however, should not be a traumatic experience for the client. The attorneys at Cheong, Denove, Rowell, Bennett & Karns have written and lectured on the subject of dog attacks and damages.
The attorneys at Cheong, Denove, Rowell, Bennett & Karns have authored numerous papers and have lectured to other lawyers on
dog attacks, damages and trial practice.
At Cheong, Denove, Rowell, Bennett & Karns we believe the more you know, the
better choice you will make.