Contact a Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney
It’s your worst nightmare come true. Your dog attacked someone and caused them severe injuries. You know your pet, and you have a good idea what they are capable of. You recognize the right of people to walk down the street or in a park without being mauled by a dangerous animal.
When you take your dog out for walks, you take the precautions necessary to protect other people. You may have trained and conditioned your dog to be on their best behavior when around others. You nevertheless find yourself in the position of being the owner of an animal that attacked a person. You will be held liable for it. In fact, you could face criminal penalties owing to the attack.
Dog Attack Arrest
If you have been arrested because your dog attacked someone, you should call a lawyer. You will be tempted to protest the arrest or to explain yourself to the officers who take you into custody. You should do neither. Your best move is to exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. You don’t want to say or do anything that can be used as evidence against you. Wait for your domestic dog bite lawyer in Los Angeles to arrive, and they will help you navigate through the criminal proceedings.
The first thing your lawyer for dog bite attacks will do is review the evidence the police have against you. If they have enough to hold and charge you, then your lawyer for dog bite attacks will represent you as you go through the arraignment and bond hearing. You should be able to post bond, be released from jail, and then work with your attorney to prepare your defense.
Dangerous Dogs in California
In accordance with California law, if your dog has been trained to fight, attack, or kill it will be considered a dangerous dog. You should know the history of a fully grown dog before you purchase it. Even if it does not appear dangerous at the start, any number of things can set off the fighting instincts that have been drilled into it.
If you know that your dog is dangerous, if you have participated in training it to attack, fight, and kill, then you must take reasonable measures to protect the public. You may have purchased an attack dog or trained one up to protect you and your family. This is perfectly legal. But such dogs pose a danger to the public if they are not properly controlled.
Depending on how the dog has been trained, you may need to keep it inside or in a fenced-in yard that it cannot escape. On those occasions when you need to take it for a walk for health reasons, you should muzzle the animal and keep it on a short leash.
Criminal and Civil Liability for Dangerous Dogs
You can be held criminally liable if your dog attacks someone. In California, the failure to control a dangerous animal is a misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you can spend up to a year in jail and pay a fine.
A number of charges can be levelled against you. If there is evidence that you gave a command or encouraged the animal to attack someone, you can be found guilty of using the dog as a weapon to commit an assault.
If the person who your dog assaulted dies from their injuries, you can be charged with negligent homicide. This is an extreme case, but it does happen. You are most likely to find yourself in this situation if your dog attacked an elderly a person, a child, or a person with a pre-existing medical condition.
You can only be charged with a crime in these cases if you knew that your dog had a history of mischievous behavior and you failed to keep it under control.
You will also have civil liability if your dog attacks someone. In this instance, the victim will sue you for compensation. If the attack left the person severely injured and in the hospital for weeks or months, you may be compelled to pay compensation for their medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.
You need not resign yourself to being sent to jail or paying compensation. A personal injury attorney in Los Angeles can help you build a defense against the charges. There may be special circumstances that led to the attack. Your accident injury attorney will gather all the evidence when building your case.
Here are some of the most common legal defenses for dog owners embroiled in a criminal or civil case:
- Victim was trespassing at the time of the injury
If your dog attacked someone who stepped onto your property or entered your home without permission, then you can claim self-defense. Even if the person was not carrying a weapon or claims they had no intention of doing you harm, they should not have entered your home without permission. This defense will be strengthened if you have posted signs on your property warning people of the presence of a dangerous dog.
- Victim was partly at fault for the attack
One of the first things your attorney will do is gather all witness statements and video footage of the scene in which the attack took place. Your attorney will also track down the people who witnessed the attack. Given the ubiquity of smartphones, one or more of them is likely to have captured the attack on video.
Your lawyer may find that the victim teased or provoked the animal into an attack. This will reduce the amount of compensation you have to pay, and it may be enough to keep you out of jail.
- Voluntarily risked injury
If the victim knew the animal was dangerous and decided to engage in horseplay and similar types of activities with it, then they may be held partly to blame for the attack.