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Dog Bites

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Dog Bites

Dog bites are among the most emotionally devastating injuries people suffer. Much of this emotional damage is due to the fact that the vast majority of dog attacks are against children. Children often carry the fear precipitated by the attack into their adult lives and can experience terror at the very sight of a dog. Because dogs are so prevalent in everyday life the effects of a childhood attack can leave a person unable to socialize with friends and family who are dog owners, regardless of the demeanor of their pet.

Dog bites can result in serious injuries to a child, the elderly or the average adult. Dog bites usually result in some degree of scarring and can result in permanent physical deformities. The lengthy physical recovery, multiple plastic surgeries and psychological therapy can take years, and some never fully recover.

California’s dog bite laws are among the toughest in the country. California also has some 850,000 cases of dog attacks every year.

As a result of the large number of dog attacks in California, the Legislature enacted Civil Code Sections 3342 and 3342.5 which state in pertinent part:

Civil Code Section 3342 confers liability on the owner of a dog, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before:

(a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.

Civil Code Section 3342.5 (The “menacing dog” Statute) holds a dog owner liable for their failure to protect the public from a dog known to attack humans in the past:

(b) Whenever a dog has bitten a human being on at least two separate occasions, any person, the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary.

(c) Whenever a dog trained to fight, attack, or kill has bitten a human being, causing substantial physical injury, any person, including the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary.”

When a dog attack case is brought to trial, the jury will be instructed to determine the liability of the owner based on the following official jury instruction:


California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

463. Dog Bite Statute (Civ. Code, § 3342)—Essential Factual Elements

Victim claims that dog owner’s dog bit them and that dog owner is responsible for that harm.

People who own dogs can be held responsible for the harm from a dog bite, no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their dogs.

To establish their claim, Victim must prove all of the following:

  • That dog owner owned a dog;
  • That the dog bit Victim while they were in a public place or lawfully on private property;
  • That Victim was harmed; and
  • That dog owner’s dog was a substantial factor in causing Victim’s harm.

Where appropriate the following language is added to the instructions: [A Victim is deemed to have been lawfully on private property of the owner if they were performing any duty required by law or were on the property at the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.]

If all of the above elements are proven, the owner of the dog is liable for the injuries, both physical and psychological, suffered by the victim. As you can see, establishing the dog owner’s liability for the injuries is not as difficult as you might think.

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Honestly can't say enough positive things about Lalezary Law Firm! I got into a severe car accident at the end of 2016 and they've been with me every step of the way ever since. Almost 4 years! I want to thank everyone there especially Caitlyn, Shawn, and Yasmeen. They have been responsive, helpful, and reassuring and I don't know what I would've done if I didn't have the legal support that I was able to get along the years. They are super professional and really helped me get through this hardship in my life. I would definitely recommend!!!

Ivonne K.

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Last year I contacted your law firm when I got into a car accident. the gentleman that handled my case, his name was Cesar. Cesar was very helpful and compassionate about my situation. He helped me get my car fixed very quickly and was super patient with me. He answered all of my questions and ensured me that everything will be taken care of. Once my case was settled I ended up getting more than I was expecting, which was amazing. I highly recommended Cesar and this law firm to anyone that needs help.

William Charlton

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I was a client to Lalezary firm for about a year, the staff is really nice and professional. I would get updates on the case status and when I did call I would usually get a call back within 24 hours. I really appreciate the work that was done for me. I got the most out of my settlement and when I called to have a break down of the costs, Genesis was very patient and gave me a break down on all of it. I will definitely recommend this law firm to friends and family, as well as call them in the future if needed (hopefully not soon).

Erendira Landa

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I had gotten into an accident and had no idea what to do. Friends and family recommended I get a lawyer since I was not at fault. I found this firm and I was beyond impressed. They handled everything for me from car insurance questions to finding doctors for me to visit. After my accident all I had to do was make appointments with various doctors to help with my pain. I give five stars because this firm went above and beyond and continued to follow up with me. I highly recommend if you are in need of a lawyer to use them.

Jacqueline D.

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The team at Lalezary we’re amazing! I am not the kind of person to seek legal counsel, but I was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle and the driver’s insurance was avoiding my attempts to get reimbursed. They were able to not only get a settlement that replaced my motorcycle, but they found me physical therapy which was close to my work. Now I am back to where I was physically before the accident and I am able to ride a motorcycle again. They were always responsive to my texts, calls, and emails. They even would systematically check to see how I was healing and if the support they linked me to was satisfactory.

Charles Mortensen

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This law firm is a team of miracle workers! Lalezary Law Firm saved me from suffering at another law firm from Century City. My case manager Jonathan was able to gather all the details from my accident ( literally within a week! ) and keeping me updated consistenty to keep me at ease. They work diligently and keep at it until your case is completed. I went through a car accident that almost took my life away but thanks to the higher power and Lalezary Law Firm, you won't even hesitate to choose them because I felt trust and integrity throughout my case and I feel happier in my life, which in my opinion, matters the most at the end of the day.

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