California led the nation in 2010 dog bite claims, at 369, representing a total payout of $11.3 million, according to a State Farm Insurance Co. report that lists the top ten states for dog bite claims
This works out to an average $30,623.31 paid out per claim, which says something about the problem of dogs not kept under control by their owners.
If you love dogs, which I do (three Labs at home plus cats, etc.) then you know that there are pet owners who refuse to keep their dogs properly fenced on their property, or keep overly aggressive animals (in Los Angeles, pit bulls are a big problem) or just don’t understand that pet ownership is a responsibility as well as a privilege.
And, by the way, in California, there is no “every dog gets one free bite” standard when it comes to injury claims.
The standard jury instruction (CACI 463) says that there is liability when an injured plaintiff proves:
1. That the defendant owned the dog;
2. That the dog bit the plaintiff while he/she was in a public place or lawfully on private property;
3. That the plaintiff was injured;
4. That the defendant’s dog was a substantial factor causing plaintiff’s harm.
Irresponsible owners should be held liable for the injuries their animals cause. Of course, it’s always better to head off the harm in the first place.