Who pays for the injuries caused by an aggressive dog?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Personal Injury

Many people smile when they see a dog ahead of them on the sidewalk or nearby in a park. Most people assume that canines are companionable and friendly animals. However, some dogs are far more aggressive than others.

Animals mistreated by humans, raised as security animals or living with certain genetic/neurological defects may be more likely to become aggressive than others. Sometimes, owners are aware that their dogs pose a risk to other people, and other times they are unaware of that threat until the dog suddenly becomes aggressive and hurts someone. A dog with an aggressive temperament could severely injure a person.

Who is typically liable for an incident in which a dog attacks and injures a human?

An animal’s owner is liable for its actions

Every state has unique rules related to personal liability and animal ownership. California is among the states that impose strict liability on animal owners. If a dog injures a human, the owner of the animal likely faces strict personal liability for the incident.

The law does grant a few exceptions. If the person attacked by the animal was in the midst of committing a crime or trespassing on private property when the animal attacked them, then the owner may not be responsible for the financial impact of the animal’s aggression. In most other scenarios, and owner might have to compensate those injured when their dog becomes volatile.

However, often dog owners can count on their homeowner’s insurance or possibly their renter’s insurance covering the expenses associated with a dog bite incident. So long as someone notified their insurance provider about the animal’s presence and breed, their coverage can reimburse people hurt by their animal, even if the incident doesn’t occur at their home.

Homeowners insurance can apply to dog bite incidents that occur in public parks and other locations, not just attacks at someone’s primary residence. An aggressive dog can cause numerous significant injuries. They can disfigure someone by biting visible body parts, such as the hand, face and neck. They can cause broken bones and major infections. The people attacked by an aggressive canine should not need to suffer significant financial hardship because of someone else’s poorly-trained animal.

Ultimately, learning more about California’s liability rules may benefit those injured unexpectedly by a dog.