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California Dog Bites Lawyers

Serving Santa Barbara, Oxnard and Ventura

Dog bites can inflict painful injuries, as well as emotional injuries that often linger long after the wound has healed. In California, dog owners are generally responsible for any injuries their animals cause. The attorneys at Crane Flores, LLP utilize their experience to try personal injury and wrongful death cases that help dog bite victims recover compensation for the medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages that accompany their injury.

Serious injuries

Depending upon the size of the dog, the size of the victim, and the viciousness and duration of the attack, dog bites can cause injuries ranging from lacerations and puncture wounds to crushed bones and compound fractures, nerve damage, rabies and other diseases, and death. Unfortunately, small children are frequently the victims of these attacks, owing to their smaller size and lack of experience with animals. They may have a limited capacity to appreciate the risks a dog may present.

In addition to the serious physical injuries and accompanying pain and suffering, dog bites can cause severe emotional distress and long-term or lifelong disabilities. A fear of dogs can seriously impact a person’s quality of life by hindering his/her ability to socialize with others or be out in public places. Other people suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  that may require long courses of treatment through psychological therapy, psychiatric care, or medication. When facial scarring or disfigurement has occurred, repeated painful reconstructive surgeries may also be necessary.

Strict liability

California does not follow the “one free bite” rule found in some other states, which basically excuses a dog owner who did not previously know of the animal’s dangerous propensities. In California, pet owners are strictly liable for any harm their animals cause. It does not matter if the owner knew the animal was dangerous, or if this attack was the first time the animal showed any signs of viciousness. Strict liability also means that the injured person does not have to show that the dog owner was negligent in allowing the attack, and it is no defense for the owner to claim that he or she took care to keep others from harm. Dog owners are “strictly liable” when their animals attack and injure others.

Be aware of defenses

The strict liability law only applies to injuries that occur in a public place or while the person injured was lawfully in a private place. When the dog bite occurs on the dog owner’s private property, the owner may claim the injured person was not permitted on the property at that time. Being lawfully present includes workers with a license to enter private property to perform their duties, such as mail carriers and letter readers, as well as people who had an express or implied invitation to come on to the property. Whether someone had an implied invitation to be on the property can be a complicated question. What about a child who wandered onto the property? Was there something on the property that attracted the child’s attention? If the area was not secure, the question of whether the child was a trespasser or not can become quite involved.

Call for information and advocacy after an animal attack

At Crane Flores, LLP, with offices in Santa Barbara, Oxnard and Ventura, our lawyers have the skill and experience to work through these difficult questions and hold dog owners accountable for the damage their animals have caused. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite or other animal attack, contact Crane Flores, LLP or call 805.568.5927 to schedule a free consultation.


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