The United States is a nation of dog lovers. According to the American Humane Society, 62 percent of all families in the United States own at least one pet. While cats, birds, and fish are popular choices, the most common household pet is the dog. About 47 percent of all homes have at least one dog.
Californians enjoy walking their dogs through parks and on the sidewalks, as well as playing with them in their homes and yards. From giant Mastiffs to tiny Chihuahuas, dog owners all have their favorites and defend their breed’s superiority among all others, sometimes vocally!
Dogs have been called “man’s best friend.” There is no doubt that the vast majority of dogs are gentle, loving, and loyal pets who bring a great deal of joy into our lives. However, like any other animal, dogs sometimes have a limited understanding of the things they see and hear around them, and when they feel threatened they may turn aggressive. These defensive instincts may kick in for reasons that are not completely understood. What is clear is that any dog, no matter how gentle, has the capability of biting a human being if the impetus is right. The fact that many dogs go to their graves without ever biting a human being in no way lessens the impact of the fact that all dogs are capable of inflicting damage on people.
Sacramento Dog Owner’s Duty Under California Law
Unlike some states, California does not offer a “one bite” exemption from liability for dog owners. Some states assume that if a dog has never bitten before, the first bite is unexpected and the owner should not be held liable. This means that, in those states, even if you are bitten and severely injured or killed by a dog, the owner would not be held liable.
California takes the opposite approach. In Sacramento, dog owners are responsible for their pets from the moment they take ownership of the animal. Any bad behavior on the part of the dog is grounds for liability and may cause the owner to be sued. This is known as a “strict liability” interpretation and springs from California Civil Code § 3342, which states that an owner is to be held responsible for any damage caused by a dog on his or her own property or in public, unless the victim enters the property illegally. This means that a burglar who is bitten by a dog may not have the right to sue the homeowner, but a person collecting for charity that comes into the yard and is bitten by a dog may be entitled to damages. Veterinarians, trainers, and others who work with dogs are also exempt from the statute and often may not file suit against a dog’s owner in the event of a dog bite injury.
Under California’s dog bite statute, victims in Sacramento have two years from the date of the incident to file an injury claim. If a victim does not file a claim within this window, he or she relinquishes his or her right to pursue compensation for damages.
It is very important to get in touch with an experienced Sacramento dog bite attorney as soon as you can after a dog bite and pursue all the remedies that may be available to you.