Can A “Beware of Dog” Sign Ruin My Personal Injury Case?
As with most legal matters, the answer boils down to “it depends”.
What does my case depend on?
It depends. In some instances, a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign may work in your favor since you may be able to prove that it implies that the owner had prior knowledge of their dog’s aggression. In other instances, a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign may actually work against you if it can be proven that you were aware of the risks associated with entering the area. Often, as a plaintiff in a dog bite case, you must come up with other pieces of evidence that prove that the dog’s owner had prior knowledge that their dog had “vicious propensities”.
Different states, different laws.
California has a “strict liability” statute on dog bite incidents, which means that a dog owner can be held liable if their dog bites someone, even if the dog has no prior history of aggression. In states without strict liability laws, a dog owner is rarely held liable for an attack if it can be proven that the dog was good-natured up until the incident. If you’ve been bitten by a dog in California, you don’t have to worry about proving the dog’s history – but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have an easy time in court, especially if you attempt to present your case without the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Proving your case
Just because a state’s law may seem to be stacked in the victim’s favor, the outcome of a dog bite suit is often left up to the specific circumstances surrounding the incident regardless of the statutes in place. Even in states with strict liability laws for dog owners, if the defense can provide evidence that you voluntarily chose to assume the risk of being bitten or otherwise provoked the dog, you may have a harder time defending your case against the owner. Similarly, if you provoked the dog, were trespassing, doing something otherwise illegal, or being careless or negligent, you may have a much harder time proving your case than if you were bitten without provoking the animal – regardless of whether or not the owner had a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign in a visible area.
Find an attorney you can trust.
Dog bite cases can be quite unpredictable. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a dog bite or attack, it’s especially important to have an experienced attorney on your side who can help you navigate the process of getting the compensation you deserve. Robert Meissner is a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of experience – call our offices at (916) 863-2900 today to schedule a free consultation.