What is California

January 19, 2023

California witnesses the maximum instances of dog bites and attacks in the United States. As per the State Farm reports, the company paid more than $132 million in 2017 to settle 3,600 dog bite injury claims across the country

California’s Strict Liability for Dog Bite Injuries & Damages

In the United States of America, each state has different laws concerning Dog bites and injuries. Some states follow the one-bite rule. As per the one bite rule the dog owner cannot be held liable for a dog bite or attack unless the dog was known to have attacked or bitten before.

However, California is a strict liability state with regard to dog bite injuries. As per the strict liability dog bite law, the owner is held liable for the dog bite or attack, even if it is the first instance when their dog has attacked or injured someone.

In California, dog owners are legally liable for any harm caused by their pets to another human.

This implies that the dog bite victims who seek redressal in court do not need to establish previous instances of bites or attacks by the dog or demonstrate an apathetic approach on the part of the owner. All they need to prove is that they got bitten and the other person was responsible for the dog.

California dog bite law is more victim-friendly as compared to other state’s dog bite laws. California allows dog victims to recover compensation for their loss and damages in most cases.

How is strict liability for dog bites different from the one-bite rule?

Strict liability for dog bites is very different from the one-bite rule. Under California’s strict liability dog bite laws, victims of dog aggression are empowered to seek compensation for their losses. However, with states following the one-bite, the dog owners are held liable only if they were aware of their pet’s potentially dangerous traits.

Owners are often alerted of their dogs’ aggression through the occurrence of a prior biting incident. This could be an indication that they ought to take extra precautions in safeguarding others from harm, which may result in future bites if they fail. If they fail to stop their dog from attacking or biting again in the future, the one-bite rule will hold them liable for the injuries caused.

Are there exceptions to the strict liability rule for dog bite injuries California?

Yes, there are 5 important exceptions to California’s strict liability dog bite law:

  • Victim was trespassing

California dog bite law under Civil Code section 3342 holds dog owners liable only if the dog bite attack occurs on public or private property where the victim was lawfully present.

People present on the dog owner’s premises unlawfully or uninvited and bitten by a dog, cannot hold the dog owner strictly liable as they will be held trespassing the property.

  • Law enforcement – police or military dogs

Victims bitten or attacked by dogs working for the police or military cannot hold the owners (government) strictly liable for the attack. Only if the dog has bitten an innocent bystander, the victim can file a claim under California’s strict liability rules.

  • Applicable only to dog owners and not dog caretakers

California’s stringent liability statute applies only to dog owners. If the person you are suing for a dog bite was merely acting as their pet’s custodian or caretaker at the time of the incident, then they cannot be held strictly accountable

  • People who have legally taken up the risk of getting bitten by dogs 

Dog owners who find themselves facing a lawsuit based on strict liability can assert that the dog bite victims assumed the risk of getting bitten by dogs. Certain vocations like Veterinarians and Kennel Workers entail an obvious and foreseeable aspect of being attacked by canine pets; these people have voluntarily accepted this possibility when entering into their line of work.

Professionals have tacitly assumed the inherent risks that accompany their professions and yet can still seek recompense for dog bite injuries California by demonstrating that the owner was negligent.

  • Victims are partially at fault or responsible for provoking the dog.

Dog owners can mitigate liability risks by pointing out that the victim’s negligence played a part in their injuries. California’s comparative fault legislation provides restitution compensation based on the percentage of culpability that each individual brought to their circumstances. Dog bite victims could potentially be partially accountable for engaging in an activity such as kicking, punching or striking an animal; causing displeasure, annoyance or even harassment – which may have ultimately provoked its attack upon them.

Contact Professional Dog bite Lawyers 

Have you or a family member been the victim of a dog bite or attack? If so, don’t despair. At Khashan Law Firm, our experienced California dog bite lawyers can assist with filing your personal injury claim and safeguarding your legal rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.