A 76-year-old woman suffered major injuries in a Riverside County dog attack after a pit bull mauled her near a local Walmart parking lot. According to a news report in The Press-Enterprise, the incident occurred the afternoon of March 5, 2013.
Onlookers, including the manager of a group home, Jose Reyes, who saw the attack from across the street, came to the woman’s rescue. Reyes saw that the pit bull had its teeth clenched around the arm of the woman, “throwing her around like a chew toy.” The victim suffered severe puncture wounds to her side, arms and legs. She was hospitalized, but is said to be in stable condition.
Prior Complaints from Neighbors
Officials say the dog lifted a latch to unlock the gate of a chain-link fence surrounding a home in the 200 block of Commonwealth Avenue and attacked the woman who was walking along the sidewalk on her way to a store. Those who tried to help the woman tugged at the pit bull’s head trying to get it off the woman, but they said it only aggravated the dog even more. Neighbors said they had complained to animal control officials four or five times about this particular dog. Reyes told The Press-Enterprise that the dog often got loose.
Based on this news account, it appears that the dog escaped from its owner’s yard and attacked the woman. I trust officials are verifying the prior complaints involving this dog and determining whether its owner was negligent in not securing the dog.
Laws and Liability Issues
Under California’s strict liability statute, dog owners are financially responsible for the injuries and damages caused by their pets. California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
In such cases, injured victims can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, surgeries, permanent injuries and scars, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced Riverside personal injury attorney who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that victims are fairly and fully compensated for their significant losses.