California’s strict liability rules in dog bite cases

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2024 | Animal bites |

In the sunny state of California, it’s common to see dog owners walking their beloved pets through neighborhoods, letting them play in parks or even enjoying a day out together at local cafes. But what happens if a peaceful day out turns into an unfortunate incident involving a dog bite?

In such situations, California has specific laws that determine if and when to hold the dog owner accountable for the injuries their pet causes.

Strict liability by law

While some states follow a “one bite” rule, which exempts the dog owner from liability if their dog has never bitten anyone before, California doesn’t. Instead, the state’s strict liability rule applies. This rule holds a dog owner accountable for a dog bite, whether or not it’s the first incident or the owner knew about the dog’s aggressive tendencies.

This law comes into effect if a dog bites someone in a public place, like a park or on a walk, or when someone is lawfully in a private place, even the owner’s backyard.

Exceptions to the rule

While a dog owner can face liability in California in instances where their dog bites someone, there are certain exceptions. For example, if a person is committing a crime such as trespassing, the owner might not be responsible for injuries caused by the dog.

Similarly, if someone intentionally provokes the dog into biting, the owner might not be accountable for the resulting injuries.

Compensating for injuries

If a dog bite incident happens, victims have legal avenues to pursue damages, such as medical costs due to the bite. To seek compensation, victims would typically file a personal injury claim against the dog owner. It’s important to note that there’s a time limit for filing such a claim, known as the statute of limitations. In California, this is two years from the date of the incident.

Navigating the legalities of a dog bite can be stressful, especially for those suffering major injuries associated with a bite. So, it could be beneficial to consider the help of legal counsel to navigate these situations.