Dog owners are responsible for their dogs on both private and public property.
If you were bitten by a dog in Long Beach, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.
Dog Bite Statistics
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Given its population and weather, Los Angeles County and Long Beach are perennially at or near the top of dog bite incidents in the country.
As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.7 million people in the United States suffer dog bites every year. More than one out of every five of them require medical treatment. Children comprise more than 70% of the victims, especially children between the ages of five and nine. Children are often the most seriously injured victims of dog bites too.
The Controlling Statute
Dog bites in and around Long Beach are addressed by California Civil Code section 3342(a). It states that: “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 laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.”
Strict Liability and Negligence
Given the language of section 3342(a), the victim of a dog attack need not even allege wrongdoing by the owner of the dog, even when the dog has no previous history of aggression. That makes section 3342(a) a strict liability statute. The claimant need only show the following:
- The defendant owned the dog at issue.
- That the attack occurred on public property or when the claimant was legally on private property.
- The claimant was injured by an actual bite by the dog at issue.
Owners might also be held liable for damages after an attack if they allow a dog to run at large without it being leashed or otherwise restrained. Under such circumstances, strict liability doesn’t apply, but a dog bite case might be brought under the law of negligence. Long Beach Municipal Code 6.16.100 requires dogs to be on leashes.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog attacks and bites can lead to very serious injuries. About 30 people per year die from the injuries in dog attacks. Here are some common injuries that aren’t fatal:
- Punctures: These can be deep and go beyond the skin layers. The depth makes the bites more susceptible to becoming infected. Anybody with one or more puncture wounds from a dog bite should visit an emergency room for care and treatment.
- Infection: A dog’s mouth might have 40 different kinds of bacteria. If you suffer from pain, redness, swelling puffiness, pus or heat, see a qualified medical professional right away.
- Scarring: Permanent scarring can occur from bites, especially with children. Severe scarring can diminish a victim’s quality of life. One or more reconstructive surgeries might be the only alternative.
- Nerve and Muscle Damage: Deep bites can cause serious irreparable damage to nerves and muscles. Bones can even be crushed from dog bites.
There are a variety of defenses to any California dog bite case. Here are a few of them.
- Provocation: A person might intentionally tease a dog like kicking it or poking it with an object. This defense doesn’t apply if the bite victim was a child under the age of five.
- Trespassing: If the attack by the dog occurs on private property, the victim must be able to show that he or she was legally on the property, an example of a special instance is when a dog bites a postal worker or a dog attacks against a USPS. There is no protection under section 1344(a) for trespassers.
- Police or Military Dogs: When these dogs are working, their owners can’t be held liable for an attack.
- Other Injuries: Section 1344(a) requires an injury to be caused by a bite. An owner isn’t strictly liable for any other cause of an injury, like a dog jumping up on a person and knocking him or her down.
Attacks at Dog Parks
Long Beach residents are liable for their dogs, even at dog parks.
There are several area parks where dogs might be permitted off leash, including Recreation Dog Park, Uptown Dog Park, El Dorado Dog Park, Wrigley Heights Dog Park, K-9 Corner Dog Park, Seaside Dog Zone, Bixby Park, Rosie’s Dog Beach, Home Run Dog Park, Signal Hill Dog Park, Jackson Street Dog Park, Arbor Dog Park, Scherer and Coolidge Park.
Rules all dog handlers should follow at dog parks in Long Beach include: no unattended dogs, no puppies, dogs hsould have vaccines and licenses, no dogs in heat, no professional training, no aggressive dogs or dogs declared vicious. A full list of regulations is available here.
What to Do After Suffering a Dog Bite
Obtaining compensation for a dog bite injury for you or your child can be complicated. Here are some steps that you should take that might increase your likelihood of success. First, obtain immediate medical treatment at an emergency room or your doctor’s office. If you know who the owner of the dog is, report the bite and the dog to local animal control. After that, try to safely obtain pictures of the dog and the place where the attack occurred. Then, take pictures of your injuries After that, contact our offices to arrange for a free consultation and case review.
Contact a Long Beach California Dog Bite Lawyer.
Our Long Beach dog bite lawyers want to know about how your injuries occurred and how you have been affected after being bitten. Your treatment and prognosis are important to us too. After we’ve had an opportunity to speak with you and evaluate your case, we’ll give you our recommendations on your legal options. Contact us right away after you or your child have suffered injuries from a dog bite.