A California man was attacked and killed by 4 dogs while doing some work at a house in Jurupa Valley. According to police reports, the man had been asked by the owner to do some work at the house. It was not the first time he was working there and there hadn’t been any incidents previously. However, last Tuesday someone called 911 to report screaming at the house. When the police arrived, the man was already dead. The owner rushed back and immediately agreed to surrender the animals – three Belgian Malinois and one Cane Corso – to the authorities for human euthanasia, which took place the same day.
The story doesn’t stop here as the dogs’ owner is liable for his animals’ actions and may even face criminal charges.
While such tragic cases are fortunately rare, dog bites are not. What happens if a dog attacks you or your kid? Can you sue the owner? Who is liable for damages?
What is California’s strict liability law?
Soon after the terrible news broke, Riverside County Animal Services Director Erin Gettis warned that the tragedy should be considered ‘a horrific reminder for dog owners to be vigilant in keeping communities, dogs and people safe.’
Both Belgian Malinois and Cane Corso dogs can be dangerous and should receive proper training while young. California doesn’t have specific laws concerning dangerous breeds, not even Pit Bulls. However, owners of potentially dangerous or vicious dogs must keep the animals inside or in a fenced area. While in a public place, the dog must be kept on a leash if the owner cannot control it.
Under the strict liability law, the owner can be held accountable for what the dog did, even if they had no idea the animal might attack someone. Other states have laws saying the owner is liable for the dog’s acts only if they knew or should have known the animal was dangerous. In California, it doesn’t matter. The owner will pay for what their dog did.
The strict liability law does not apply if the victim was trespassing, which is not the case in the Jurupa Valley story. There the victim had been invited to the property by the owner to do some work. Other categories of people doing legitimate business on a property, like a postman delivering mail, are covered by the strict liability law.
Keep in mind that, even if the dog’s teeth do not penetrate the skin, it still counts as a bite, and the victim is entitled to sue for damages.
Victims should reach out to an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to understand how much their claim may be worth. When someone is mauled to death by dogs, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death claim and seek damages for the financial losses, as well as for their emotional distress. The dog owner may or may not face criminal charges, but to recover damages you must file a civil lawsuit.
Are dog bites covered by home insurance in California?
That depends on the type of coverage the dog owner has. Some insurers treat dog bites as an add-on, so you must buy additional coverage. At the same time, some companies may refuse to cover dog bites if the owner keeps dogs known for their tendency to be aggressive, such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, or Mastiffs.
Have you been injured by a dog in Los Angeles?
If you or a loved one were recently bitten by a dog in the Los Angeles area, contact the skilled attorneys at the Neumann Law Group. Our attorneys possess many years of experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Through our compassionate approach and dedicated representation, we will help you bring the owner to justice. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our toll-free number at 800-525-6386. To contact our California office, call 213-277-0001.