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Filing a lawsuit for dog bites and related injuries

Dogs are considered man's best friend and provide companionship to thousands of California residents. However, even the best-behaved dog can become angry or fearful and cause significant personal injury.

Many people who have been injured by a dog wonder if they can pursue a lawsuit against the owner for damages. Generally speaking, the answer is yes.

In California, dog owners generally are strictly liable for any bite-related injuries caused by their dogs. This means that if a dog bites someone on either public or private property, the owner of the dog may be responsible for any damages caused by their dog's bite, even if the owner did not know of the dog's viciousness. While there are exceptions to this rule (for example, if a military or police dog bit someone while defending itself), in most cases dog bite victims will be able to pursue a civil suit against dog owners under the theory of strict liability.

If a dog caused a non-bite injury, the owner may still be liable for negligence. Dog owners have a responsibility to other members of the community to ensure that their pets are monitored and kept under control. If an owner leaves their dog off-leash, allows a dog they know is dangerous to be left out among small children or otherwise fails to use reasonable care with regards to their dog, they may be liable for any injuries the dog causes.

If you have been bitten or otherwise injured by a dog, you may want to determine if the dog owner can be held responsible under the theories of strict liability or negligence. Liability will depend on the facts of your case. Damages that might be sought include compensation for medical expenses, emotional trauma and other costs relating to the incident.

Source: FindLaw, "California Dog Bite Laws," accessed on April 2, 2018

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