In California, dog bites are extremely serious matters. People who are bitten by dogs can suffer from permanent scarring or disfiguration, infections, amputations from severe back, emotional trauma, and other serious side effects. While dog bites are generally handled through California civil law, there are some cases involving dog bites that are considered criminal matters. Criminal charges can be a repercussion in addition to a civil lawsuit.
Criminal Charges Are Filed by the State
If you or someone you love suffered because of a dog bite in Woodland Hills, you should immediately call the police to report the incident. This is important because it alerts state officials of an animal that could be vicious and it gives you necessary documentation should you choose to file a civil lawsuit. If you elect to file a civil lawsuit, keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time (known as a statute of limitation) to do so. It is up to state officials to determine whether they will charge the dog owner with a criminal offense.
California dog bites may fall under the category of criminal if the dog falls under the state’s legal definition of dangerous or vicious. By state law, a dangerous dog has acted in an aggressive manner that caused another person to defend themselves at least two other times in the last 3 years while the dog wasn’t on its own property. If the dog bit another person without being provoked, even if the injury wasn’t severe, it could be deemed dangerous. If the dog killed, bit, or injured another domestic animal at least twice during the last 3 years while it wasn’t on the owner’s property, it could be deemed dangerous.
A dog may be considered vicious under state law if the dog is owned by someone with a conviction of an offense related to dog fighting, if the dog was aggressive and seriously injured or killed someone, or is listed as a dangerous dog and the owner has not followed the precautions listed by the Food and Agriculture Code.
If a dangerous or vicious dog is allowed by its owner to roam free or the owner fails to provide reasonable care related to restraining the dog, the owner may face felony criminal charges from the state if the dog kills a person who took reasonable steps to protect themselves in that situation. If a serious injury occurred, but not death, the state may still file criminal charges, but the state could opt to charge them with a misdemeanor criminal offense.
Financial Compensation for Dog Bites
Civil lawsuits can be filed against an owner if their dog bites someone and causes an injury. However, because there is a statute of limitations, victims should speak with a California dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Financial compensation is an option, but is determined based on negligence and any other contributing factors.
For more information on what to do after your or a loved in is injured by a vicious dog, contact dog bite lawyer Barry P. Goldberg for a free consultation.