You may know that California has one of the highest rates of dog bites and animal attacks in the country, with thousands of dollars in insurance payouts every year for dog bite injuries. Given that California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, it is extremely important for anyone who is considering bringing a new dog into the family to know about a new adoption law that is designed to protect potential adopters. While the new law is aimed at providing families with more information about whether a dog may have a history that could make a dog bite more likely in the future, the impetus remains on adopters to ask questions about the dog’s viciousness. A recent article in CityWatch discusses the new law and what it could mean for dog owners in dog bite cases.
California Governor Signs New Law Concerning Potential Dog Adopters
On October 2, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom sign AB 588 into law. The new law, according to the article, “is important to anyone who adopts, or considers adopting, a dog from any animal shelter, human society, or “rescue” group in California and to anyone living in a community where an adopted dog is kept.” In short, the new law requires all animal shelters in the state to inform adopters about whether any dog that is four months old or older has bitten a person and broken the skin. Under the new law, the animal shelter is required to inform a person about this type of animal history prior to selling a dog, giving away a dog, or otherwise releasing a dog. The history of bite(s) must be disclosed in writing, along with information concerning the incident in which the dog bite occurred.
Under the bill, an animal shelter is defined as any of the following:
- Public animal control agency;
- Public animal shelter;
- Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter;
- Humane society group; or
- Animal rescue group.
If any animal shelter fails to provide this information, it can be fined up to $500. However, it is important to know what the law does not require a shelter to do, as well. The legislation will not require animal shelters to inform adopters about a history of “animal aggression” that does not include a dog bite that broke the skin. Adopters will need to ask this information themselves.
Filing a Dog Bite Injury Claim Under the New Law
As the article underscores, California is a dog bite “strict liability” state under the California Civil Code Section 3342. Accordingly, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries that result from a dog bite as long as the victim is in either a public place or lawfully in a private place at the time of the dog bite.
However, the article raises a question about whether the new law could result in animal shelters being liable for dog bite injuries if a shelter fails to disclose information about a prior dog bite incident. Indeed, as the article suggests, “AB 855 could . . . place the direct responsibility for future damages by the dog with the shelter or rescue.” To be clear, both animal shelters defined as such, in addition to rescue groups, will be bound by the terms of the new law.
Contact an Encinitas Dog Bite Attorney
Do you need assistance filing a dog bite claim? An Encinitas dog bite injury lawyer can discuss your case with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about our services.
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