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What You Should Know About Dog Bite Lawsuits in California?

What You Should Know About Dog Bite Lawsuits in California?

California personal injury and dog bite laws allow a victim to sue the dog owner. The victim has the right to collect compensation from the at-fault owner for injuries.

If you or loved one has sustained catastrophic injuries due to a dog bite, you should sue the dog owner.  In this blog post, you will learn about California laws relating to dog bites.

California Dog Bite Law

States have different laws relating to dog bites. As per the Dog bite law (section 3342 of Civil Code), a dog owner is liable if:

  • a victim suffered damages due to a dog bite
  • the victim was in a public place or in private property without trespassing

In California, the strict liability law applies.  The law states that the owner will be responsible even if the dog had not acted aggressively before. The victim has only to prove that the dog bite occurred in a public place, and the dog was not provoked into biting.

As per the strict liability law, you don’t have to prove that the owner knew that the dog would bite. But this only applies in case of a dog bite. If you got injured when trying to get away from a dog, you have to prove that the owner did not take measures to secure the dog. The negligence law applies in this situation. The owner who fails to take reasonable care will be liable for the injuries.

Exceptions to California Dog Bite Law

State laws have created exceptions for police and military dogs. The dog bite laws are not applicable if the dog had bitten while carrying out an official duty.

There are other instances when dog bite laws are not applicable in California. A dog owner could not be liable for an attack if he or she took proper actions to prevent a dog attached. Moreover, if the victim knew that the dog was dangerous due to a warning sign outside, he cannot sue the owner.

Moreover, the victim should have taken proper care expected of a reasonable person. Failure to exercise care will make the victim partially responsible for the dog bite. In this situation, the legal term ‘contributory negligence’ applies.

For instance, suppose a dog bites a person who tries to go over a fence. In this case, the victim had contributed to the accident. The dog owner will not be liable for the injuries. But the owner has the ‘burden of proof’ in case of contributory negligence of the victim. The owner has to show that he or she had taken proper measures to avoid a dog bite.

About Dog Bite Settlement in California

A person injured in a dog bite negotiates with the dog owner to agree on compensation for the injuries. In case of an agreement, the dog owner or the insurance company will make the payment.

Dog owners are not the only ones who you can sue in case of a dog bite.  Here are some other parties you can sue in case of catastrophic injuries due to a dog bite.

Animal Keeper

You can sue an animal keeper who looks after the dog on behalf of the owner. Examples include animal sitter, pound, or kennels. Anyone who is in custody of a dog is answerable in court for a dog bite.

Property Owner

A property owner will be liable if he let a pet dog inside the property. If the property owner let in and fed a stray dog that attacked a person, the victim can sue the owner.

Minors Parents

The victim of a dog bite can also sue parents of a minor who is under 18 years. Under California law, a minor cannot be liable for an accident. Parents are liable even if they had no direct involvement in the accident.


Landlords will be responsible if they knew (or should have known) that the tenant owns a dangerous dog. The victim can sue the landlord for not taking any action to prevent a dog attack.

If the parties don’t agree, the victim can sue the dog owner. The local judge or jury hears the case and gives the verdict based on evidence.

The losing party in a dog bite lawsuit can file an appeal. The dog owner can appeal to reduce the damages. The victim can also appeal if the decision is in favor of the dog owner.

Damages in dog bite lawsuit compensate the victim for the following injuries.


  • Medical bills for treating the dog injury
  • Lost wages due to dog bite injury
  • Cost of household services
  • Temporary or permanent disability due to a dog bite
  • Emotional problems due to dog bite

Make sure that you file a case within the specified period. You won’t be able to sue the guilty party if you don’t file an injury claim within the specified time.

A Statute of Limitations sets a deadline for filing lawsuits in civil courts. In California, the statute of limitations for personal injuries is two years. You can file a case within two years of the dog bite injury.


In case a dog bites you, the first thing you need to do is to request medical attention. An animal bite can have serious health consequences. Even a minor bite can result in a severe infection. Death occurs in case the animal had rabies.

After a medical evaluation, you should consider contacting a Bernard & Bernard Attorneys. Our lawyers will assess your case and inform you about your rights to get compensation.

Make sure that you provide all the information requested by Bernard & Bernard Attorneys. Our attorney will help you negotiate with the dog owner, and if required, file a lawsuit on your behalf. Our attorney will assist you in meeting court formalities and gathering evidence. With the help of Bernard & Bernard Attorneys, you can increase the chances of a successful court outcome.

About The Author

LA Injury Attorneys

Shane Bernard is a prominent Los Angeles attorney. Mr. Bernard has a degree in philosophy from New York University and dual minors in both psychology and United States history.