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Dog Parks and Liability for Bites

Brand Peters PC May 23, 2024

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite at a California dog park, you're likely wondering about the next steps and if legal action is necessary. Dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite incident involves understanding specific legal nuances, especially in California where dog park cases operate differently than other dog bite cases.  

While the joy of watching your dog play should be worry-free, the reality is that accidents happen, and knowing your rights is crucial. At Brand Peters PC, serving Walnut Creek, California, and the surrounding counties of Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and Solano County, we're here to guide you through this challenging time. Here's an in-depth exploration of these issues. 

Ownership & Liability Laws in a California Dog Bite Case 

California's laws are clear when it comes to dog ownership and liability.

It's essential for dog owners to be familiar with these laws to protect themselves and others. California upholds a "strict liability" statute regarding dog bites (Civil Code Section 3342). This means the dog owner is automatically held liable for damages resulting from a bite in a public place or lawfully in a private place, regardless of the dog's previous behavior or the owner's knowledge of such behavior. 

Determining liability in a dog bite case typically revolves around proving the bite occurred in a public place or while the victim was lawfully in a private place. Under California's strict liability laws, proving negligence or fault is not usually required. 

How a Dog Park Case Is Unique 

Dog park liability cases often hinge on the concept of negligence and the understanding that all dog owners owe a duty of care to those around them. This means they must take reasonable steps to prevent their dog from causing harm.  

Dog parks are unique environments where dogs are often off-leash, which can affect liability and negligence considerations in dog bite cases. Unlike other settings, the expectation of dog interaction complicates the determination of reasonable control and foreseeability of an attack.  

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack at a dog park, we strongly recommend you seek the help of a local attorney who can speak to your specific circumstances and provide clarity on what your options are for a liability case or injury claim.  

Common Injuries Dog Attack Victims Sustain 

Victims of dog attacks can suffer from a range of injuries, from minor scratches to severe wounds requiring medical attention. The level of injury sustained will significantly impact any legal actions taken. Victims of dog attacks can suffer from injuries including but not limited to: 

  • Puncture wounds 

  • Lacerations 

  • Infections (e.g., rabies) 

  • Broken bones 

  • Emotional trauma  

Six Dog Bite Levels (Injury Scale for Dog Attacks) 

Understanding the severity of a dog bite is key in legal cases. The injury scale ranges from Level 1 (no contact by teeth) to Level 6 (death). Each level has specific criteria that can influence the outcome of a legal case. 

Dog bite injuries are categorized into six levels, as follows: 

  • Level 1: No skin-contact by teeth. 

  • Level 2: Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture. 

  • Level 3: Minor skin punctures. 

  • Level 4: One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog's canine teeth. 

  • Level 5: Multiple-bite incidents with at least two Level 4 bites or multiple-attack incidents with at least one Level 4 bite in each. 

  • Level 6: Victim death. 

Potential Compensation for Victims in a Dog Bite Case 

Victims of dog bites may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Understanding what compensation is available is critical in deciding how to proceed legally. Victims may recover damages for: 

  • Medical expenses 

  • Lost wages 

  • Pain and suffering 

  • Emotional distress 

To learn more about what compensation you may be entitled to, speak to a trusted personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite cases.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Parks and Liability for Bites: 

Do I need a lawyer after suffering a minor dog bite? How long do I have to file an injury claim? 

Even minor bites can result in lawsuits, particularly if they lead to infection, medical treatment, or other complications. While not mandatory, consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible after suffering a dog bite is always advisable and can help preserve evidence and assist with the timely filing of a potential claim.  

A lawyer who practices personal injury, specifically dog bite cases, can provide key guidance and representation, helping victims receive appropriate compensation for their injuries and losses. Victims have two years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit. 

What should I avoid saying after getting bitten by a dog? 

It's important not to make statements that could be interpreted as assuming responsibility for the incident. Avoid apologizing or making speculative comments that could be interpreted as admitting fault or downplaying your injuries. 

What should I do after a dog bite attack in a dog park? 

If you are bitten by a dog at a dog park, seek medical attention immediately, report the incident to the appropriate local authorities, document your injuries, and consider consulting with a lawyer to discuss your options. 

  1. Seek immediate medical attention if necessary. 

  1. Report the incident to the park authorities or local animal control. 

  1. Collect contact information from the dog owner and any witnesses. 

  1. Document your injuries and any damages. 

  1. Consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite cases. 

Understanding these aspects can significantly impact the outcome of a dog bite case in California, especially in the unique context of dog parks. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can provide invaluable support and guidance through the legal process. 

Contact Brand Peters PC for Legal Representation in your California Dog Bite Case 

The importance of legal representation in a dog bite cannot be overstated. Navigating the legal processes while recovering from an injury can be overwhelming, which is why we're here to help.  

If you've been injured in a dog park in Walnut Creek, California, or the surrounding areas, contact Brand Peters PC for your free consultation today.

Our experienced and reliable attorneys, Jonathan M. Brand and Nicolis Peters, are dedicated to fighting for your rights and advocating for you to receive the compensation you deserve.