In California, we have what are referred to as “leash laws”, which were enacted to protect individuals and their pets from other animals. These laws require pet owners to make sure their pets are on leashes when outside. When an individual violates these laws, they are negligent per se and/or strictly liable, which means they are automatically liable for your injuries and/or your pet’s injuries.
People who have animals with “unusually dangerous” propensities, such as Pit Bulls and Dobermans, have a heightened duty. People who own, keep, or control animals with unusually dangerous natures or tendencies are responsible for the harm that their animals cause to others, no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their animals. (California Civil Jury Instruction, No. 462.)
WHAT TO DO FOLLOWING A DOG ATTACK OR BITE
If you and/or your pet have been attacked or injured by another person’s pet, take the following actions to protect your rights:
Step 1: Evaluate your body for pain and injuries. If there are signs of injury, seek medical attention especially if there is an open wound caused by the attack.
Step 2: Take photos of your injuries and/or pet’s injuries. Also, take photos of the animal responsible for the attack.
Step 3: Gather as much information as possible from the owner of the dog or their dog walker. Request a copy of their (1) driver’s license and/or identification card information; (2) home address; and (3) phone number. If possible, call the police. The police will issue a report and/or call animal control. If there are any witnesses, request their information.
Step 4: Note the location of the attack or bite. Take photographs of the location if possible.
Step 5: Call LA Century Law for a free consultation.
WHAT TYPE OF COMPENSATION AM I ENTITLED TO?
In California, you are entitled to two categories of damages: “Economic” and “Non-Economic” damages. Both Economic and Non-Economic Damages provide compensation for past and future harm.
Economic Damages: Economic damages or “Special Damages” are those that can be quantified. Meaning, it is easy to place a monetary value on them. Economic damages include but are not limited to:
► Medical costs and expenses (past and future).
► Loss of earnings or income resulting from the accident.
► Other out-of-pocket costs and expenses
Non-Economic Damages: Non-Economic Damages or “General Damages” are damages where no exact monetary value can be calculated. Non-Economic damages are awarded both for past and future harm, and include but are not limited to:
► Pain and suffering.
► Mental anguish which includes anxiety, fear, shock, and humiliation.
► Loss of enjoyment of life.
► Emotional distress.
► Loss of love, affection, companionship, sexual relations, and emotional support from your spouse.
Punitive Damages: In California, punitive damages are available in rare situations to punish a person that acted intentionally, recklessly, or with “gross negligence”. “Gross Negligence” is a reasonable departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.
Punitive damages are also available under California Civil Code § 3340, which states: “For wrongful injuries to animals being subjects of property, committed willfully or by gross negligence, in disregard of humanity, exemplary damages may be given.” This means that if your pet was injured and the other side acted “willfully” or by “gross negligence,” you would be entitled to punitive damages.
IS THERE A DEADLINE TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION?
In California, a claim must generally be brought within two years from the date of the attack and/or bite. Therefore, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you believe you have been harmed.