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Can you prove an owner should have known their dog was dangerous?

There are so many dog owners in California, and for the most part, that is a good thing. Dogs are tremendous pets, and they can be loving members of any family -- and even a community. But we use the phrase "for the most part" purposely because, unfortunately, there are some dogs that are dangerous and a threat to people or the community.

Dangerous dogs can cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries if they attack someone. And given their dangerous nature, the chances of that happening are substantial. Should a dog attack someone, the victim will have to consider what legal steps they have to take for their own personal well-being. 

One of the important aspects in those legal steps is to establish that the owner of the dog was negligent. You can do this in a number of ways -- one of which is to prove that the owner should have known that his or her dog was dangerous.

How can you prove this? Consider some of these elements:

  • Some factors are pretty obvious, such as previous aggressive behavior, attacks, or complaints made by people.
  • But other factors aren't as obvious. For example, why does the owner have the dog? Is it for protection, or for something else? Does the dog have to be confined often? Does the owner have to post signs warning people of the dog's presence?
  • The breed of the dog and the size of the dog are indicators as well. Certain breeds are more aggressive; and the bigger the dog, the more likely it is to harm you.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Prove Fault in States Without Dog Bite Laws," Accessed Feb. 4, 2016

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