Anybody who owns or keeps a dog is responsible for the dog’s actions. If you’re riding a bicycle, and a dog begins aggressively chasing you and it bites you and/or causes an accident with injuries, the owner of the dog can be held responsible. A dog chasing a bicyclist might not have bad intentions, but a bicyclist being chased isn’t in a position to try and read the dog’s mind.
Dog Attacks and Bites
As per California Civil Code 3342, the owner of a dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place. That’s strict liability regardless of whether the dog was vicious in the past or the owner had knowledge of the dog being vicious. The dog owner becomes automatically liable to a bicyclist for his or her damages without regard to fault. In a public place, the only apparent defense for the dog’s owner or keeper was that the claimant provoked the dog.
A variety of serious injuries can result from an attack by a dog during or after chasing a bicyclist. Some of the more common injuries include:
- Skin punctures
- Nerve damage
- Fractures and dislocations
- Permanent scarring
Dog chase accidents
When a dog gives chase to a bicyclist, that bicyclist might experience nervousness or even fear. He or she can lose focus on their surroundings and road conditions and then crash without the dog ever touching them. California Civil Code 31642 controls this fact situation, and it requires the dog’s owner to keep the dog indoors or in a securely fenced yard from which the dog can’t escape or children can enter. If the dog is off of the owner’s premises, it must be restrained on a substantial leash of appropriate length and be under the control of a responsible adult. If the dog causes an accident and injuries by chasing, and it doesn’t bite the rider, the law of negligence would apply as opposed to strict liability.
After an injury involving a dog
Time is a critical element in any dog bite or chase case. Here’s what needs to be done as soon as possible:
- Identify the dog, it’s owner and where they live
- Get emergency room treatment
- Report the dog to local authorities
- Take pictures of your injuries
After you’ve taken those measures, contact us, and we can arrange for a free consultation and case review.
We’ll evaluate the circumstances surrounding the occurrence and your injuries, and then we’ll advise you of what we believe we might be able to do for you. If we enter into a retainer agreement with you, no legal fees would even be payable unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. California recognizes the harm that dogs can cause, especially if the bite or accident victim is a child. Follow our recommendations that appear above, and then contact us right away after any dog chase accident or biting attack.
Bay Area Bicycle Law
We are the only injury law firm in Northern California specializing exclusively in representing cyclists. In many cases we can help injured cyclists obtain significantly more compensation for their injuries than they would receive without having an experienced bicycle accident lawyer represent them.
We work exclusively with injured cyclists in northern California. If you were injured in Davis, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco or anywhere in northern California and think Caltrans may be responsible for your injuries, contact us today.