California Dog Owner Liability

California Dog Owner Liability

Imagine that you are out walking along the beach with your pup, when a jogger runs up beside you and your dog gets spooked. Your normally calm dog leaps out and snips at the ankle of the jogger. What happens now? In this blog, we will go over a few things you need to know about dog owner liability in California. From the state’s statute of limitations to the defenses a dog owner may use if faced with a claim, it’s good to know the legal basics when you own a dog.

California’s Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites

Each state has its own statute of limitations governing the time period you have in which to file a claim for personal injury in civil court. For the state of California, that statute of limitations is two years. Since a dog bite is considered a personal injury, the injured party has a time frame of two years after the incident with the dog occurs to file a claim. If the claim is filed after two years, your case will likely not be heard.

California Dog Bite Statute

The California state civil code says that the owner of any dog is liable if:

  • Damages were caused by a dog bite; and
  • The injured person was in a public place; or
  • The injured person was lawfully on private property.

This statute does create an exception, however, for those who are injured by a dog while said dog is carrying out police or military work. In order for California’s dog bite statute to apply, the injury must have occurred from a dog bite rather than from some other action of the dog.

Let’s look closer at the rules surrounding non-bite injuries caused by dogs. Just because an injury wasn’t caused by a dog bite, does not mean you are off the hook as the dog’s owner. For example, maybe your dog caused an injury after it jumped up and scratched another person. Under these circumstance, there are California negligence rules that could allow the injured party to say that you, as the dog’s owner, failed to take reasonable steps to secure the dog from jumping on the other person.

While most dog owners are civilly liable for injuries caused by their pups, there are situations where more severe criminal charges could be filed. If you fail to give your contact information to someone who you know was bitten by your dog, or if you fail to restrain a dog known to attack or trained to fight and it bites someone causing serious injury or death, you could be at risk for legal consequences. These are rare cases if you are a responsible dog owner, but beware that criminal consequences can arise under certain circumstances.

Strict Liability State

When are you legally liable for your dog’s conduct? Each state will handle the liability of a dog bite differently. Some states are “negligence-only” states, while most are “strict liability” states. California is one of the states that falls under the strict liability ruling. This means that a dog owner cannot claim that he/she had no idea the dog would act out in an aggressive way as a way to get out of liability for the harm caused by the dog. Dog owners are held liable even if the dog has never bitten before or shown any hint of aggression in the past.

On the flip side, if you are the person who was bitten by a dog, under this strict liability rule, you only have to show that you were out in a public place or lawfully on private property when the bite occurred in order to file a claim. You do not have to prove that the owner knew the dog would bite or did not take proper steps to prevent the bite from occurring.But, in situations where the injury occurred from something other than a bite, the claimant will have to show that the owner was negligent in supervising their dog such that it led to the injury complained of.

Defenses Against Dog Bite Liability

The most obvious defense against a personal injury dog bite claim would be that the injured person was trespassing on private property. Remember, California requires that the injured person prove they were in a public place or lawfully on private property when the incident occurred. If the injured person was trespassing on private property, they would be unable to establish liability.

Military and government agencies also have two possible defenses. First, there is no liability if the dog was carrying out its duties as a military or police dog when the bite occurred, or if the person provoked the dog to attack. These defenses only apply if the dog was carrying out specific duties its job, and there is specific paperwork that is filled out by the police and military when incidents like this occur with their working dogs.

Overall, it’s important to be a responsible pet owner and make sure your dog is secure while in public. Owners should also make sure that those around them are aware that the dog is present and warn them not to approach it if the owners think an incident might occur. It’s easy to enjoy your pet while also being aware of and avoid the circumstances that could upset or provoke your dog into injuring someone.

Need more information on dog bite laws in California? Check out Dan Higson’s page here. If you need legal help for a personal injury claim, including for dog bites, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

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Managing Money In Old Age

Managing Money In Old Age

As people get older and ease into retirement, there are always finances looming overhead. It is also crucial to update your estate plan at this time, or establish one if you have yet to do so. What do you need to do to manage your finances most effectively for retirement, and when do you need to start thinking about it? Here are a few ideas that will help you manage your money in the best way possible as you get older.

Keep it Simple

Take a long hard look at all of your financial accounts. Ask yourself if you still need each account or if it is something that you can roll into another account or get rid of completely. A good example of this is if you have old 401Ks from several different employers. Rolling them into a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA could be a good option. Keeping things like this on one taxable account instead of several will help make your finances easier. This will reduce mistakes on your financial and tax papers.

There may be some cases where you need an extra account. For example, you might want to keep an emergency fund or investment for your kids separate. This is fine, as long as you keep in mind that it will make your finances a little more complex.

To further help you simplify, set up direct deposit for regular income, such as social security checks, to go into your bank account. Not only will this keep you from needing to go to the bank as often, but it will ensure that your money gets where it needs to go with less chance of human error.

The fewer investment accounts and bank accounts you have open, the less likely you are to be a target for fraud. It will also be easier to detect if you are a victim of fraud if you only have a few accounts to oversee. You need to make a master list of all your accounts once you have them in order. In the event someone has to help you with your finances, or you no longer have the capacity to handle them yourself, a master list will be very helpful.

A Helping Hand

Once you have all of your accounts simplified, you may want to consider finding someone you can trust to help you with your finances. The first step is to make sure your spouse is involved and you are both on the same page. Is there another family member or friend you trust? You can also hire a financial advisor if you want to steer clear of extra family involvement. Getting an extra person involved in your finances does not mean you need to turn total control over, it is just an extra set of eyes to make sure there is no suspicious activity. It also helps this person understand how you run and control your finances should the time come where they need to fully take over the responsibility.

Some families prefer the option of hiring a money manager so that they can spend time with their family members and enjoy their company while not stressing over the finances. If you decide to use an outside person’s help, you need to make sure they are qualified in money managing and finances. There is no regulation on this, so you need to do your research before giving out all of your information. The American Association of Daily Money Managers offers certification for money managers that requires a criminal background check and a written exam. You can go to the website and search for money managers that have this certification before making a final decision.

Estate Plan Ahead

There are several steps to take as you plan ahead for your finances. The idea is to plan all of this out well before you are incapable of managing your own finances. While planning for the worst may be a hard thing to do, it is necessary for everyone as they get older. A good place to start is by setting up a durable power of attorney.

Have a durable power of attorney written up with a person that you trust. As you continue forward with your plans, your trusted person will have full control over your finances should you become incapacitated or otherwise incapable of handling it on your own. While you still retain full capacity to make decisions, this type of power of attorney lets you change your agent or revoke the document entirely whenever you wish.

There are many other steps to take for proper estate planning. Check out our other blog here that goes over the most important documents required for a good estate plan in California.

If your finances are placed in the wrong hands, this could lead to abuse of your estate. It is best to consult an attorney that is well studied in elder law as you write up the durable power of attorney, so you can make sure you are safe from exploitation. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a great website to visit to find a specialized attorney within your area. If you need help with your estate planning in the Ventura County area of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez. We have handled thousands of estate plans, and we know how to help set up your documentation and keep them safe.

Final Expenses

Having a will and testament is very important for any estate plan. Your will makes it so that there is no question within the family about how your financial assets will be handled when the time comes. It is possible to write this up yourself, but it’s better to have an attorney help. That way, you can make sure there are no unanswered questions and your wishes are carried out just the way you want them. If you’re interested, you can check out this blog to find out what happens when someone dies without a will in California.

Make sure to set up accounts for your long-term care and funeral costs. This could be a specific savings account that you deposit into, or it could be something built into your life insurance policy. Having this in place lessens the burden for you and your family.

Simplifying your accounts and getting all your finances and estate planning documents in place makes your elder years more enjoyable for you and your family. While at first it can seem scary and confusing, just imagine how much worse it would be to sort it all out when you are no longer able to do so on your own and your family would have to get involved. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to find financial and legal assistance to make sure that everything is correct and exactly how you want it. Proper estate planning is key, and the sooner you start to simplify, the better.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Retail Apocalypse: Retail Stores Closing and Filing for Bankruptcy

Retail Apocalypse: Retail Stores Closing and Filing for Bankruptcy

With the shift of a lot of shopping going to the Internet, retail chains are struggling. Many have recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and there are an unprecedented number of retail stores closing across the U.S. It’s easier to log onto a website and shop than it is to go into a store and look around. There is more convenience in online shopping. You can be comfortable at home, and they are more likely to have the style and size you are looking for. So how will any of these retailers hang on to their in-store customers? How will they survive the online shopping boom? Some of them wont, and we are going to take a closer look at this problem.

Stores Aimed at Teenage Shoppers

Many of the recent struggling retailers are those like Wet Seal and The Limited. These brands are targeted at teens and are an in-the-moment brand. Young shoppers won’t have an extended loyalty to these stores as they get older. Over the course of two years, Wet Seal had a staggering loss of $150 million. The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed more than 330 stores nationwide in 2015. In January of 2017, The Limited’s women’s chain also took a hit from online shopping, closing all 250 of its remaining stores. In February, Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy again and also closed the rest of its stores.

Abercrombie and Fitch has also been hurt by these in-the-moment shoppers, with fast fashion stores like H&M coming out on top. The chain had to close 60 stores at the beginning of 2017. To keep customers coming, A&F took a new approach with more customer engagement. By creating a fashion runway with mannequins in the middle of the store and allowing customers to change the lighting in the dressing rooms, A&F are hoping to keep the customers coming. This is a new fast way of customer engagement, and in the instant gratification shopping age, this idea just might work.

Major Retail Chains

Retailers aimed at teen shoppers are not the only stores feeling the effects of online sales. JC Penney, once the go-to retailer for middle America, plans on closing 150-300 stores nationwide in 2017. Under a former executive for Home Depot, Marvin Ellison, it appears the retailer most known for apparel sales is attempting to broaden its appeal. Imitating stores like Sears, Roebuck & Company, JC Penney is opening more showroom stores for appliances, custom blinds, and flooring options. This may be one way to keep the retailer going as they try to maintain fewer retail stores and build up a home improvement side to the business. Only time will tell if this works.

Sears was one of the first retailers to feel the pull of online shopping starting a over a decade ago. Sears and its sister discount store, Kmart, closed 130 stores in 2016 and are set to close an additional 150 this year. Kmart has a history of financial struggle. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2003, and merged with Sears around that time. It will be interesting to see if retailers that are going a new route, like JCP, will hurt Sears even more as they increase in overlap.

American retail icon Macy’s is also set to take a punch from online shopping this year as it is geared to close 100 stores. It is also selling some of its prime locations in hopes of keeping a profit off of a few of its brick and mortar stores. It’s clear that Macy’s will need to revamp its presence, but this could take years.

Retailers for Specific Shoppers

It’s not just major retailers that are hurting, as businesses geared at specific demographics are closing shop as well. Children’s Place is planning to close 300 stores by 2020. Knowing this is coming, the retailer has struck a deal with online powerhouse Amazon.com to sell its clothing online while using Amazon as a replenishment program of sorts. By closing these stores, Children’s Place will attempt to boost inventory production and connect with a larger audience of internet shoppers. This seems to be a good option for them, as parents are busy, and online shopping is easier than dragging your kids through the mall to shop for clothes.

Another retail-specific store that did not hold up well to Internet shopping is RadioShack. The electronics seller closed 552 stores this spring. Websites like Amazon.com and NewEgg.com have become a hub for electronic consumers, and RadioShack could not handle the loss of customers. If you want to read more about RadioShack’s long history and current struggles with bankruptcy, check out a more in-depth blog on the topic here. Other electronics-based retailers like Circuit City also fell victim recently.

The Future of Retail

What does this all mean to the U.S. retail store market? Some stores, like Abercrombie and Fitch and Children’s Place, have started making changes to try to keep up. Others have already failed.

The unprecedented amount of brick and mortar retail stores closing over the past few years reveals a change in technology and society’s views towards shopping. It shows that we are now in a time where consumers care less about brand loyalty and more about instant gratification. Yes, you still need to wait for your purchase to arrive in the mail, but the consumer knows it’s on its way. The product has been purchased. No walking the mall looking for the right dress, no needing to travel to another store to get that shirt in the right size, and no need to return to the store when that Bluetooth speaker is shipped from another location. All these things can now be done from the comfort of your own home.

Attorney Dan Higson can help with your bankruptcy case, and can answer any questions you have about Chapter 11, Chapter 13, and Chapter 7 bankruptcies. Contact Dan today at 805-644-7111!