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What You Can Do If You Were Injured in California After Your Vehicle Hit a Dog What can you do if you were injured in California after your vehicle hit a dog? When you hit a dog or other domestic animal, chances are you'll escape physically unharmed... although you may incur legal consequences if you don't stop at the scene. Sometimes, though, collisions with domestic animals can be seriously injurious or even fatal for the driver involved. If you find yourself in that kind of situation, you should take the time to contact a knowledgeable San Mateo car accident attorney to find out what steps are necessary to protect your rights.
How Often Do Fatal Injuries Happen Due To An Animal?
The potential for a serious or fatal injury is especially high for motorcyclists. For example, a motorcyclist driving in Arkansas earlier this year died after a dog entered his lane of travel on a state highway. The motorcyclist hit the dog and the impact threw him from his bike, causing the man's according to a Magnolia Reporter report.
These sorts of incidents are more common than you might think. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 26,000 vehicle-versus-animal crashes in this country each year. Other reports from places like Canada and Greater New Orleans depict similar circumstances where a dog entered the road, the motorcycle hit the dog, and the resulting crash seriously injured or killed the motorcyclist.
What Can I Do If I Am Injured In A Crash Like This, Given That I Can't Sue The Dog?
You can't sue the dog, but the dog's owner may have legal liability and owe you compensation for the harm you suffered. The law says that the owner of a domestic animal (such as a dog) has a legal obligation to keep their animal restrained and out of the road where they can pose a danger to drivers and passengers on the roadway.
For example, many county (and other local) governments have ordinances stating that dogs must be kept leashed and specifying the maximum length a leash can be. Even in the absence of a requirement like that, owners are responsible for keeping their dogs properly restrained. If a dog entered the road and caused an injury accident, then that dog's owner may have breached his/her duty to keep the animal appropriately restrained and, therefore, may be negligent.
Lease Ordinances and Negligence Per Se
Generally speaking, California law does not presume that, in a vehicle-versus-dog crash, the dog was at fault (and the owner therefore liable.) The injured driver or passenger must proceed with their case like any other vehicular negligence case. However, proof of a leash ordinance violation may open to door to strengthening your case significantly through the use of a legal concept called "negligence per se."
Negligence per se says that, if you can prove a violation of a statute or ordinance (such as a traffic law or a leash ordinance,) then that violation can allow the court to presume that the violator was negligent, thereby shifting a substantial part of the burden from you to the defense. As a real-life, a bicyclist in nearby Contra Costa County won a new trial after the court in her case refused to instruct her jury on negligence per se. The woman suffered major injuries after a playful German Shepherd dog, who was unleashed, bumped her bicycled and knocked her over. Contra Costa County had an ordinance that required owners to leash their dogs. As the dog that hit the bicycle was unleashed, the woman was entitled to pursue a negligence per se case.
Contact A San Mateo Attorney
Whether your accident was the result of negligent driving, a dangerous hazard in the road, or a dog darting in front of your vehicle, the skillful San Mateo personal injury lawyers at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP can help. Our team has extensive experience across the full spectrum of injury-causing auto accidents. Contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.
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