Many stories about dog bites in the San Diego area involve animals that have, unbeknownst to their owners, either gotten loose from their fencing or are off leash and wandering free.
San Diego residents can usually understand why California law would hold such pet owners accountable for their animals’ behavior, as it is at least seemingly careless to let a dog go loose, as any dog carries with it some bite risk.
However, victims of dog bites may be less sure of their rights when they get bitten by dog that was being supervised by its owner, especially when the dog was fenced in or was being led on a leash. Some might figure that the owner was doing his or her best, and so the bite is simply an accident for which a pet owner has no legal obligation to answer.
In California, though, pet owners are held strictly liable for any injuries their pets may cause other people through the pet’s aggressive behavior. Legally, this means a victim can sue even if the pet owner was doing what he or she could to protect people from his or her dog. The pet owner can even be held accountable if he or she had no idea that the dog was prone to biting.
On a practical level, then, a victim should not be too concerned by the fact that the dog which attacked them was on a leash, being supervised, or was even fenced in. These circumstances do not per se prevent a bite victim from suing the owner and asking for compensation for things like medical expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement and lost wages. The only possible exception is if the victim was trespassing on the pet owner’s land.
Still, California’s laws about dog bites are not always easy to interpret or apply. A bite victim should therefore consider speaking with an experienced dog bite attorney in the San Diego area about his or her options.