Can Your Personality Increase Your Risk of a Dog Bite Injury?

duffy-brook-350225-copy-300x200Are you more likely to suffer a dog bite injury in Poway if you have a certain type of personality? On the surface, the idea might seem ridiculous. After all, dogs bite for many different reasons and often bite unprovoked. However, according to a recent article in Psychology Today, the notion that certain personality characteristics could place individuals at greater risk of sustaining a dog bite injury might not be so far-fetched. Of course, a dog bite victim’s personality traits are not sufficient to get the owner off the hook in the event a dog does bite. Yet, understanding the relationship between an individual’s personality characteristics and the risk of sustaining a dog bite injury might help residents of Southern California to better protect themselves.

Body Language can Affect the Likelihood of a Dog Attack

According to the article, people who experience anxiety and distress, or more colloquially, those who display the personality characteristic of “neuroticism,” could be more likely to get bitten by a dog. The article cites a previous study on the issue published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and it seeks to assess whether the research findings in that study are legitimate based on our knowledge of clinical psychology. Can a certain level of neuroticism, which can lead an individual to appear nervous or on edge, increase the likelihood that a dog may bite that person?

Neuroticism, according to psychologists, typically results in one or more of the following additional characteristics:

  • Irritability;
  • Anger;
  • Fearfulness;
  • Sadness;
  • Anxiety;
  • Worry;
  • Hostility;
  • Self-consciousness; and
  • Vulnerability.

These tendencies often lead to certain types of body language, such as fidgeting, which can be disconcerting to a dog. In addition, the article suggests the possibility that people who are especially nervous or fearful might emit a pheromone that could make dogs uncomfortable. Unlike humans who are uncomfortable (and know how to control their responses), fearful humans—even if they are not scared of the dog—may lead a dog to become more fearful and to attack.

On the whole, however, it seems difficult to say with certainty whether your personality can actually play a role in assessing your risk of being injured in a dog attack.

Strict Liability Law for Dog Bites in Poway

Regardless of whether you were fearful or anxious around a dog, California is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means that the dog’s owner does not have to be negligent in order to be liable for a dog attack injury. Instead, mere ownership of the dog—regardless of the lengths the owner might go to in order to prevent a dog bite—can result in liability. Under California’s strict liability statute:

“The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

In other words, to win a dog bite injury claim, a plaintiff needs to prove the following:

  • Plaintiff was bitten by the dog; and
  • Plaintiff either was on public property or was lawfully on private property when the dog bite occurred.

Learn More from a Poway Dog Bite Lawyer

Do you have questions about filing a dog bite claim? A Poway dog bite attorney can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

See Related Blog Posts:

What Should Vista Residents Know About Dog Bites?

Increase in California Dog Bite Insurance Claims

(image courtesy of Duffy Brook)

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