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Long Beach Dog Injury Lawyers

Tripped or Knocked Down by a Dog and Injured?

Injuries suffered due to being knocked down by a dog or tripping over a dog can be serious. The elderly are particularly susceptible to serious injuries, including broken bones (hips, shoulders, arms, wrists, etc.). Not only are seniors more likely to suffer injury if they trip over a dog or are knocked down, but seniors are also slower to heal from their injuries. Unlike a younger injury victim, who may achieve a 100% recovery, an elderly victim may never fully recover from their injuries.

Dog Owner’s Liability if Dog Trips or Knocks Down Victim

A dog owner’s liability for injury caused by their dog depends on the type of injury and the circumstances of the injury. Unlike dog bite injuries, for which a dog owner is strictly (automatically) liable in California (unless the injury victim was trespassing or provoking the dog), a dog owner is not automatically liable for injuries suffered by someone who is tripped or knocked known by the owner’s dog.

Dog Owner Liability if Dog Knocks Victim Down

The liability test is: was the dog’s owner negligent? Example scenarios:

  • On public property (park, sidewalk, etc.) where leash laws apply and the dog was off leash. If a dog which is off leash knocks you down on public property, the dog owner is likely liable for your injuries because the owner violated the leash law. A doctor owner would also likely be liable if the dog was on a leash, but the dog owner was not in control of the dog.
  • On private property (at the dog owner’s home, or your home, or someone else’s home), and the dog jumps on you and knocks you down.

Liability is more likely to attach if:

  • Dog owner knew that the dog had a history of being aggressive towards others
  • Dog owner knew that the dog had a history of jumping on others
  • Dog is large and poorly behaved, making it foreseeable to the owner that the dog may knock into someone and injure them
  • Despite foreseeability of injury, the dog owner fails to warn others or do anything to prevent the dog from jumping on someone, such as leashing or confining the dog

Dog Owner Liability if Victim Trips on Dog

A dog owner’s liability for injuries suffered due to tripping over a dog is hazier than injuries suffered due to being knocked down by a dog. Again, the liability test is: was the dog’s owner negligent?

Example scenarios:

  • Tripped over a dog on public property (park, sidewalk, etc.) where leash laws apply and the dog was off leash. If you tripped over a dog which is off leash on public property, and leash laws apply, then there is a good argument that the dog owner is liable. Would the injury likely not have occurred if the dog were leashed and under the control of the owner? If yes, then liability on the owner will likely attach.
  • Tripped over a dog on private property (at the dog owner’s home, or your home, or someone else’s home). Say you are visiting a friend or relative at their home, and you trip on their dog. Is the dog owner liable for your injuries? Leash laws don’t apply. At a dog owner’s home, the dog can roam free. The question is one of negligence: should the dog owner have anticipated that the dog would trip a guest? Does the dog have a history of getting underfoot? Did the injury victim know of this history? Unless the dog owner knew, and the visiting injury victim didn’t know, that the dog had a history of getting underfoot and tripping others, then establishing liability on the dog owner will likely be difficult.

Friend or Relative’s Dog and Hesitant to Make a Claim?

If you were injured by a friend or relative’s dog, you may be hesitant to make a claim – concerned about how the claim will affect your relationship with the dog owner, and the financial consequences to the dog owner. You should know that if the dog owner has homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, then it is likely that the insurance company (not the dog owner him or herself) which will pay your claim if the dog owner was negligent.

Will there be any financial consequences to the dog owner? Yes, their insurance premiums will likely be affected, but if you suffered serious injuries, then any potential increase in insurance premiums to the dog owner will pale in comparison to the financial consequences you will suffer as the injury victim. And after all, who should bear the financial consequences of an injury caused by a dog: the innocent victim? Or the dog’s negligent owner, who should have foreseen and could have prevented the injury?

If you were injured due to being knocked down by a dog or tripping over a dog, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer regarding your right to compensation for your injuries. McGee, Lerer & Associates is Long Beach personal injury law firm that represents dog injury victims. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation.

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