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When dogs are dangerous or vicious in California

Dogs are well-known as “man’s best friend,” but there are times that the wild soul emerges and a canine can become a person’s worst nightmare. Although attacks by domesticated dogs are rare, they can cause serious injury or even death if they involve a powerful or vicious animal.

Although it may not be commonly known, “vicious” has a legal definition in California when it comes to dogs. An animal is considered vicious if it seriously injures or kills a person in an aggressive manner without being provoked by the person in any way.

A lesser form of legally-defined aggression is “potentially dangerous,” attached to dogs that have injured or killed another dog away or caused a person to defend him or herself away from the owner’s property twice within three years. If a potentially dangerous dog is treated the same by its owner after the determination has been made, it is considered a vicious dog.

Victims of potentially dangerous or vicious dogs have the right to seek damages from the owner of the animal. This may include reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages during recovery, compensation for pain and disfigurement and emotional distress or payment of future medical expenses in some cases.

There are exceptions to this rule in the case of a dog engaged in military or police service at the time of the attack. A lawyer can help determine a dog bite victim’s ability to sue for damages and the likelihood of success.

Source: FindLaw, “California Dog Bite Laws,” accessed Dec. 22, 2017