Dog Bite Liability Law in California

angry dog

Last week, two California residents awoke to find that their mother had been mauled to death by dogs in Washington state. While this may seem like an anomaly, dog bites causing serious injury are more common than one may think. In 2014 there were more claims to insurance companies for dog bites in California than in any other state in America. In the same year, San Diego ranked fourth nationally for dog attacks on postal workers.

In the San Diego area alone, there are about 2,500 reported bites each year. However, this number only reflects the dog bites that are actually reported. Even fewer of these cases receive the legal attention they deserve. Many people do not report this type of injury or choose not to consult an attorney because they believe there is nothing they can do.

Dog bites often leave individuals confused. Who is to blame for their injuries? As one can hardly serve process on a pooch, victims of bites are left wondering, can anyone be held liable? Is there any way to recover? Under California law, the answer is yes.

California Stance on Dog Bites: Strict Liability

Some communities around the United States have chosen to adopt breed-specific legislation. However, a critique of this approach is that it unfairly characterizes the propensities of certain breeds like pit-bulls. In courtrooms, it is a rare occasion when the propensities of a person can come into evidence, and many animal rights groups including the ASPCA believe that the same restrictions should be given to animals. California has chosen a broader approach. In California, all dogs, regardless of breed are subject to the same regulations. This effectively takes out guessing whether a particular breed is more dangerous than another.

Under California law, in almost all circumstances, a dog owner is automatically responsible for any damage a victim suffers if one of any of the following three things is true. First, if the dog bites an individual in a public place the dog owner will be responsible for damages. This includes places like playgrounds, running trails, and public parks. Secondly, a dog owner will be liable for damages if the dog attacks a victim when the victim is lawfully on private property. This would include situations like being invited to a neighbor’s cookout in their yard or a child’s birthday party in the home of another individual. The last situation that a dog owner will be liable for is a catch-all. If a victim is on a dog owner’s property and is there legally, then the dog owner will be liable.

San Diego Dog Bite Attorney

In comparison to some other states, California’s strict liability dog bite law makes it easier for victims to be compensated. Despite this favorable law, it is important to consult an experienced dog bite attorney if you or someone you know has been injured by a dog. Our legal team has the knowledge and skills in dealing with dog bite cases and can get you the compensation you deserve.

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