When a dog owner takes their dog to a dog park, it’s that owner’s responsibility to make sure that their dog doesn’t attack and bite another owner or dog. Most dog park users use the parks at their own risk, and the parks implement and enforce strict rules for owners and their dogs. Notwithstanding any local rules at dog parks in San Francisco, California’s dog bite statute overrides them. That statute can be found at section 3342 of the California Civil Code. It’s a strict liability statute that holds a dog’s owner liable for damages from any dog bite to a person on public or private property regardless of whether that owner knew or should have known of prior vicious incidents involving their dog.
If you were attacked at a dog at a dog park in San Francisco, contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation and case evaluation.
Exceptions to Section 3342
There are very few exceptions to the strict liability imposed on dog owners under section 3342. A major exception is that a dog’s owner isn’t to be held liable to a person who is trespassing or provoking the dog on the owner’s property. Another exception involves police dogs. A police department can’t be held liable for injuries caused by a police dog when it’s fulfilling its duties, so long as there is a written policy on canine use of force and it was being followed.
What if Another Dog Attacks My Dog?
Take notice that section 3342 pivots on bites to humans and not dogs. Indeed, you can seek damages if another dog attacks your dog, but section 3342 and strict liability won’t apply. You’ll be required to proceed under the rules of ordinary negligence. Under those rules, you must make a showing that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that his or her dog might attack your dog. Section 3342 has also been interpreted to allow the defenses of assumption of risk or comparative negligence in the event that a dog owner is bitten by another dog when breaking up a dog fight.
Other Bad Dog Behavior
At a dog park, a person might be attacked and injured but not bitten when a dog jumps on him or her. Or, a happy dog could even greet you at Golden Gate Park Dog Play Area and knock you down. That doesn’t mean that the victim might not be eligible for damages compensation, but common law negligence would need to be employed. Strict liability wouldn’t apply as there was no bite.
Contact an Experienced San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyer.
Tragically, people are severely injured or even killed by dog bites. If you or a loved one have been bitten or injured at a dog park by a dog that is owned by somebody else, contact our San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyers here at The Law Office of Michael J. Quinlan for a consultation at no cost or obligation to you. You’ll be surprised with our thorough knowledge of California dog bite law and what we can do on your behalf. We don’t even ask for an up-front retainer if we’re retained to represent you. That’s because we handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. Contact our offices for that free consultation as soon as you can after being bitten by any dog in a dog park anywhere in or around San Francisco.