These may involve wild animals like snakes, squirrels (yes on Mulholland and Franklin Canyon in Los Angeles , I have encountered snakes a few times while riding) raccoons, and domesticated animals like cats and dogs. But the by far the most common encounter of them all is a dog chase or dog bite.
When it comes to dog bites, California Code 3342 specifically deals with this, making the owner of the dog strictly liable. This means regardless of the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s viciousness or even if it is the very first time the dog bites, they will be held liable.
With this statue we can start the process of recovery of your damages.
However, more often than not, it is not the dog bite that hurts us bike riders. In fact, according to the CDC, of the 4.7 million dog bites a year, 81 percent won’t need medical attention.
What ends up causing the most harm to us however is the crash as a result of the dog chase.
If the dog is the cause of injury, I will research local ordinances, statutes, and case law precedent to see how best I can find the owner liable for the harm their dog caused you.
Unlike a dog bite where liability is found on a strict liability basis, when damage is caused as a result of a dog chase, we look to see if the owner was negligent. Meaning how they breached their duty of care to you the cyclist. This requires legal research and examination of the facts.
I have even comes across case law where local ordinance has been used to attach negligence per se liability. Which operates similar to strict liability.
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF A DOG BITE:
It is extremely important to get the dog’s information to see if they have been vaccinated for rabies; if not, you will need to get treatment. If this remains unknown as a cautionary act, you will be required to go on an antibiotics regiment.
Preserve evidence! Take pictures of your wound, save the clothing where the dog bite occurred. If you are able to leave the clothing intact without impeding the quality of medical care do it. Get the owner’s information.
WHAT TO DO WHEN A DOG CAUSES YOUR CRASH:
Go against the instinct of checking your bike first and instead check yourself first. More often than not, your crash is much worse than it appears and feels. Preserve evidence. Take pictures of the bike, the scene, your injury, the dog involved, and get the owner’s information.
HOW TO PREVENT HARM FROM A DOG
Ride in areas you are familiar with. This drastically reduces the risk.
If you can’t get away from the dog, come to a safe stop and use your bike as a shield. Use the absolute least amount of force necessary to defend yourself. You should not harm the dog. Some dog trainers say speak loudly to the dog and they will go away. Some say remain motionless.