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Leash Laws and Animal Attacks

Animal AttackMost dogs are docile, beloved pets, but sometimes they can become dangerous and attack unsuspecting citizens. California has laws to protect people from such attacks and to ensure compensation for any injuries resulting from a dog attack. San Jose’s municipal code requires dog owners to keep their dogs restrained to prevent them from attacking others.

San Jose Leash Laws

San Jose’s leash laws include regulations for the protection of citizens from dog attacks. When a dog is kept on private premises, its owner or keeper must keep it confined to the premises or behind a fence high enough to contain it safely.

When dog owners take their animals on public streets or in public places, the dogs must be kept on a leash that is no more than six feet in length. The same restriction applies when a dog owner takes his or her dog to a private place if the owner does not consent to a longer leash or letting the dog roam free. Dogs in public parks or public open spaces may be kept on leashes of up to 20 feet, as long as the owner can exercise control and restraint over the dog to prevent it from making physical contact with another person without that person’s consent. However, on public trails, leashes must be no more than six feet long, and the dog owner must keep the animal on the right of the trail at all times.

The law contains exceptions for situations involving service dogs, hunting, herding livestock, dogs aiding in law enforcement, and animals that serve in other capacities. Further, off-leash public areas exist. Dog owners are not required to keep their dogs on leashes while in San Jose’s dog parks, but they still must maintain proper control over their dogs. If a dog owner cannot control the animal, and it injures someone, the owner will be responsible for damages.

Strict Liability

California’s dog bite statute addresses liability for injuries caused by a dog’s bite. A dog owner is strictly liable for a victim’s injuries if his or her dog bites and injures the victim while he or she is on private property or lawfully on public property. Because the dog owner is strictly liable, the victim does not have to prove the owner’s negligence in order to recover. Thus, even if the dog were on a leash in accordance with municipal law, the owner would be liable for the resultant damages.

Negligence Per Se

However, if the dog attacks a victim without biting him or her, but injures the victim in some other way, the victim can recover under a negligence cause of action. In California, violating a statute constitutes negligence per se, meaning that the violator is, in most cases, automatically considered to have been negligent.

Thus, if a dog attacks a victim while the owner was violating the leash laws, that violation automatically constitutes negligence, and the victim has no need to prove any other incidence of negligence. Rather, in order to recover damages, the victim simply prove that the owner violated the statute, and that that violation caused the injury.

If you have been injured by a dog or other animal attack, please call the skilled San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. at (408) 289-1417 for a free initial consultation.

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