Dog Bite Injuries

It paints a humorous picture for many when we think of a dog chasing the mailman or service person. However, dog chases are anything but funny, especially when cycling, and can become a very dangerous matter.

If you find yourself being chased by a dog when riding your bike, it is best to try and remain calm. Oftentimes, bicyclists end up being the one at fault for becoming too aggressive with the dog out of fear. While self-defense is advisable, it must be reasonable.

California follows the same law that most states do when it comes to dog bites and accidents; known as “Strict Liability” statutes. Strict liability means that the dog owner is liable for any damage or medical costs that occur because of their pet. Even if a dog committed a bite or chase crime when in the custody of someone else (such as a groomer or dog walker) the responsibility of any damages will still fall on the dog owner.

The only exceptions in California are:

  • If the bite or chase began in trespassed property, or was instigated
  • If the bite or chase was done by a military or police dog on the job

For cyclists, in particular, it is best to not try and flee the dog. This can cause poor judgment calls, such as running lights or stop signs or not carefully looking both ways before crossing a pedestrian intersection.

A dog bite or attack is no small matter. If you have been seriously injured, or have had property damaged due to a dog attack, contact the Law Offices of Pattenaude today to help file a claim.

Some common side effects of trying to outride a dog may be:

Car Collisions — In an attempt to outride a dog, cyclists may try to cut corners, speed out of their lane or disregard the rules of the road entirely just to try and lose the dog. This is not advisable nor safe. This puts yourself, as well as fellow riders and drivers, at risk. Cyclists are expected to follow standard traffic laws, no matter what the situation is, for safety reasons. Instead, try and ride to a safe place where you can ask for help to control the dog or can easily deter the dog from continuing to come at you.

Pedestrian Run-ins — As previously mentioned, it is not always easy to slow down or remain calm when being chased by a dog, especially if it is a rather large or intimidating breed. When it comes to cycling, however, it is the responsibility of the rider to maintain a safe environment for themselves, as well as everyone around them. Pedestrians are especially susceptible to cyclist run-ins. If you are riding distracted due to a dog-chase, be sure to avoid any illegal sidewalk riding or speeding. If you hit a pedestrian in the process of out-riding the dog, you will have an entirely new issue at hand.

Solid Objects — When trying to escape from a dog chase, it is not uncommon to be riding full speed ahead with your gaze behind you. This, of course, is extremely unsafe. In doing so, you may ride into a wall, fence, fire hydrant, or any other solid object that could cause potentially fatal consequences. Instead, try to see if there is anyone nearby that may be able to safely help you. While scary, the best thing to do is try and ride safely to a nearby public area and get off your bike. Use your bicycle as a barrier between yourself and the dog while someone gets help or until the dog calms down. Call animal control if the owner is not around and see if the animal has a chip that can be traced back to its owners or home.


If you’ve been bitten by a dog and believe you may have a case, contact us today for your free personal evaluation.
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