What If a Dog Doesn’t Have a Clear Owner?
Stray dogs can pose a risk to both children and adults. With no owner to control them, they can attack and injure innocent people. When a dog has no clear owner, it may be difficult to recover compensation for a dog bite. In some cases, the owner of the property where the attack occurred may be held liable for housing a dangerous animal, even if the property owner is not the dog owner.
California Dog Bite Laws
California has strict liability dog bite laws that make animal owners responsible for dog bite injuries, regardless of whether the dog has bitten before or the owner knew it was capable of vicious behavior. Strict liability applies when a person is bitten in a public place or while lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property. But when a dog has no owner, strict liability laws do not apply.
Property Owner Negligence and Liability for Dog Bites
On the other hand, property owners may be held responsible when a stray dog bites a guest on their premises. If the attack occurred on someone else’s property, the owner may be liable for resulting injuries if he or she knew the dog was on the premises and failed to take action to prevent a visitor on the property from being bitten. To prove negligence and liability in this situation, you must show that:
- The stray dog was an existing hazard on the property.
- The property owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was on the premises and might be capable of biting someone, but failed to take action to remedy the problem or warn against it.
- You suffered harm as a result of the property owner’s negligence.
Do You Need a Lawyer After a Stray Dog Bite?
The question of liability is complicated when a dog with no clear owner bites someone. If you have been injured by a stray dog, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced lawyer. You may have medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses related to your injuries. Depending on the circumstances, you may not have a legal claim if you are unable to determine the owner of the dog. However, if the attack occurred on someone else’s property, and the property owner knew about the dog and failed to take action to prevent injury, it may be possible that the property owner can be held responsible.
At Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, we have more than four decades of experience and a successful track record in pursuing personal injury claims involving dog bites. If you have been bitten by a stray dog, contact us at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free consultation. Our Orange County personal injuries attorneys can thoroughly investigate your case to determine if a property owner is liable and how you can receive compensation.
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