California Dog Bite Laws

Some of the states follow the one-bite rule, this law says that the owner of the dog would not be liable for a dog bite unless his dog has been known to have bitten before.

But, California is a strict liability state when concerned with dog bite injury claims. California dog bite law holds the owner of the dog liable for the damages caused to the injured because of dog bite, whether it is their dog’s first bite or not.

California passed a statute which abolished the “one-free bite” rule followed by other states, under this statute, the liability is completely based upon the owners, irrelevant of the dog’s past behaviour.

In California, dog bite victim only needs to prove either of the following points:

  • The dog was owned by the defendant
  • The dog bite injury took place on public property or when the victim was lawfully on private property
  • The victim was actually bitten and injured by the dog.

Owner of the Dog

California’s dog bite law statute imposes complete liability on the dog owner.  However, who is considered “owner” as per the statue?

As per the statue a person other than a dog’s legal owner can also be deemed as an “owner.”  A keeper or trainer or caretaker of the dog, can be made liable for a victim’s injuries, however not under the strict liability statute.  A keeper or trainer can be held liable only if it is proved that they had previous knowledge of the dog’s vicious, like a prior dog bite or injury caused by it.

Negligence by the caretaker or handler can also be determined as Liability. Negligence can be proved by showing that the owner or handler were not careful enough to control the dog under the said circumstances, causing injury to the victim.

Defense for Dog Bite Liability

There are several defences which the Dog owners can use to defend themselves against various dog bite or injury claims.

  • Proof of ownership: A dog being on a person’s property at the time of attack or bite, does not make the owner of the property the owner of the dog and liable for the injury. Stray dogs roaming on other people’s property cannot be considered as the dog of the property owner. Ownership of the dog can be identified using animal control records and veterinarian’s records.
  • Trespassing: If the victim of the dog bite was on the dog owner’s property unlawfully then the person is not considered a guest and not covered under the law.
  • Harassment: If the victim is proved harassing or provoking the dog by hitting or attacking it with any object just before the dog bite, the owner will not be liable for such injury.
  • No Bite: The is applicable only to dog bites. The bite may not penetrate the skin, but it has to be a bite. If a victim is scratched or jumped upon by the dog, it is not covered under the dog bite law.

Dog bite cases and claims can be complex and difficult. If you or your loved ones have been injured by a dog or you have been accused of having a dog which has bitten another person, contact a dog bite lawyer.  A dog bite lawyer can evaluate your case and analyse the value of your damages. He can also decide whether one should settle outside of court or go to trial. We at Khasan Law firm have a team of experienced California dog bite injury lawyers who can help you in your case. Our lawyers have worked on a number of cases and have assisted innumerable victims of dog bites with their lawsuits.  Our lawyers are experts on the statutes pertaining to dog bite incidents, and can completely protect your rights and offer you the best counsel.

Our service areas include Murrieta, Temecula, Fallbrook, Menifee, Winchester, Hemet, Perris, Lake Elsinore, Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Ontario, Norco, Vista, Oceanside, Los Angeles, Carlsbad, Escondido, Poway, Valley Center, San Marcos, Temescal Valley, Eastvale. You can contact us on 951.461.2387.

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