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California holds owners strictly liable for dog attacks


The San Diego County Department of Animal Services is investigating at least three attacks by the same dog. Information about the first attack was not reported in the media, but it allegedly happened in early 2011, according to reporters. The second was in August, when the animal, a pit bull in Serra Mesa, broke free of its restraint and attacked another dog, a neighbor told reporters. The other dog’s owner was hurt while trying to defend the dog. In the most recent incident, another dog and its owner were injured when the pit bull attacked them. The pit bull was on a leash, but its owner was unable to restrain the animal. The person injured in that attack was reportedly considering filing a personal injury lawsuit over the incident.

California imposes strict liability for dog owners whose animals attack other people. This means that the victim does not have to prove that the owner did anything wrong, only that the dog caused the injuries in question. This is true whether or not the owner had notice that the dog had violent tendencies.

The injuries that come with a dog attack can be quite serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 885,000 require medical treatment for dog bit injuries. In 2006, more than 31,000 people sought reconstructive surgery to deal with the disfigurement that comes with dog bites. There are also often emotional scars as well, especially among children, who make up a large percentage of the victims of dog attacks.

These injuries come with huge medical expenses and other damages. Californians who have been injured by another person’s dog should get help investigating whether they can be compensated for these damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: NBC San Diego, “Pit Bull Owner Faces Questions in Multiple Dog Attacks,” Nicole Gomez and R. Stickney, Sept. 24, 2013