1. A neighbor’s dog bit my child. My neighbor says the dog has never bitten anyone before. Since the dog and my child have played together often, she says she is not responsible for his medical expenses. Do I have any recourse?
Yes, you most certainly do. In California, the owner of a biting dog is “strictly liable” for the damages and any injuries which were caused by their dog. The law does not take into consideration that the dog had no prior history of being a vicious dog. Generally, in California, the dog owner is completely responsible for any aggressive behavior of their dog. Contact a dog bite attorney to discuss the particulars of your case.
2. What if the dog bite or dog attack occurred in the dog owner’s yard or house? That is where my child was playing with the dog.
California dog bite laws, a dog owner has a legal responsibility to restrain his dog for public health and safety concerns. As long as you were on private property legally (your child did not sneak onto the property, but was invited in) the dog owner will be strictly liable for all personal injuries, dog bite wounds, and/or any property damage suffered from the dog attack incident.
3. Should the dog bites be reported to some California authority? My neighbor doesn’t want this reported.
Yes, any dog bites which break the skin or cause puncture wounds should be reported IMMEDIATELY to your local county animal control officer. If serious, it should also be reported to the police or county sheriff’s department. For public health and quarantine reasons, in addition to public safety reasons, dogs who bite should be reported and tracked. In addition, reporting will assist your dog bite attorney in establishing the liability of the owner of the biting dog.
4. I was told the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance pays for the dog bites, is this so? What if my neighbor has no insurance, does the dog owner still have to pay?
Generally speaking, homeowners’ insurance in California will pay for all property damage, personal injuries, medical bills, and or any lost earnings which were suffered as a result of the dog attack or dog bites. However, some insurance companies in California are now excluding from coverage certain dog breeds that are known to bite or attack more often, such as pit bulls and rottweilers. If there is not any insurance in place, the dog owner is not off the hook. In this case, they are personally responsible for all medical bills for the dog bites and other damages sustained.
5. What type of compensation am I entitled to for the injuries my son has suffered?
While every dog injury claim is unique, certain circumstances, such as age, earning capacity of the dog bite victim and extent of injuries are all taken into consideration when evaluating damage and compensation. Direct damages from the dog bites such as medical bills, as well as pain and suffering, psychological trauma, physical disability, dog bite scars, etc. would be expected to be covered.