The 59-year-old U.S. Postal Service employee who was bitten by a pit bull while making her normal rounds through a North County neighborhood has died from complications of the stroke she suffered immediately after the attack. A coroner's report listed the official cause of death as a hemorrhagic stroke, but included the dog bites the woman suffered on her legs as a contributing factor.
According to police Lt. Chris Wynn, an unleashed pit bull had been inside a garage with several children just before the attack occurred. Unfortunately, the door to that garage was only partially closed, which allowed the dog to escape and attack the letter carrier.
As the woman was being treated by medics called to the scene, she began slurring her words and gradually became unresponsive. She was then taken to Palomar Medical Center and diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. The severity of her stroke and poor prognosis for recovery ultimately led to the decision to take her off life support a few days later. She died the following day.
Although police declined to issue a citation to the dog's owners in connection with this attack, dog bite victims in San Diego do not have to prove that an ordinance was violated or a crime committed in order to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit.
The reason why is that California, like most states, imposes strict liability on dog owners and the owners of wild animals such as horses or exotic pets. This typically means that injured plaintiffs do not have to prove that the animal's owner or caretaker was at fault -- only that they were bitten by the animal in question and the extent of their damages.
There are, however, some exceptions to this general rule that property owners and insurance companies have been able to exploit to their advantage in previous dog bite cases.
Source: 10news.com, "Postal Worker Who Died After Dog Attack ID'd," March 8, 2012