Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite Claim in California
Interviewer: Is there a statute of limitations for a claim like this?
Richard Sailer: Yes. It would be covered as a general personal injury statute of limitations. You would have two years from the date of the injury to either get your claim settled or get a lawsuit filed. The statute would be told for minors until they reach the age of 18.
If Another Dog Bites Your Dog, a Claim for Property Damage May Be Litigated
Interviewer: If your dog was bit by another dog, is that more of a criminal matter or can they sue that other person as well?
Richard Sailer: Under the law in California, if your animal was attacked, that becomes a property damage claim and you can recover either the actual medical expenses that you incur at the veterinary’s office. If your dog was killed, you may recover the value of that particular animal. The law does not provide for emotional damages when it’s the animal that is injured. However, the law is changing in that area. I think eventually we’ll get to the point where the animals will have rights in terms of pain and suffering damages.
A Mailman Bitten by a Dog Would be Covered by Workers’ Compensation as He was Injured in the Course of His Duty
Interviewer: What would people that work at someone’s residence— someone that works for the city and checks the meter or the classic, post office worker—and someone’s dog goes and bites him in the butt? What’s going to happen in that kind of situation?
Richard Sailer: That kind of situation is a little bit more complicated but a little easier at the same time. The mailman would be covered under workers’ compensation because the bite occurred in the course and scope of the employment. It’s more complicated because then you’d also be dealing with workers’ compensation providers. As a result, it becomes a little bit more elaborate because now we’re dealing with the home owners insurance, the dog owners insurance as well as working with the workers’ compensation subrogation department. The mailman would want to get their money back because the accident wasn’t their fault.
Procedurally, Such a Scenario Might be Complicated but it is Simple for the Victim
Procedurally, it gets a little bit more complicated but it’s a lot easier for the victim because the victim knows their medical bills are going to be covered and their time off work will be covered because the workers’ compensation will take care of everything. As the attorney, we can let workers’ compensation take its course in terms of getting the person healthy and back to work. Afterwards it’s just a matter of taking care of the dog owner’s insurance company and reimbursing workers comp.
Training a Dog to Behave is the Primary Responsibility of the Dog Owner
Interviewer: Are dog bites caused because the owner is just not responsible enough to train their animal?
Richard Sailer: A well behaved animal is usually a well-trained animal and will have less of a chance to be out of the yard or be out causing problems. Contrastingly, an animal that’s a little out of control, doesn’t behave itself, doesn’t follow commands or obey its owners is probably more inclined to get out and bite somebody.