If a dog bites a child or an individual, the biggest question which arises is who will be liable and responsible for the damages caused to the injured. In most of the instances, the dog’s owner’s insurance is responsible for paying out the damages which were incurred by the victim. With the growing population and California becoming the state having the highest number of dog attack cases in the country, the dog bite injury cases in Murrieta have been on a rise in the recent years.

The California Civil Code section 3342, imposes stringent liability to the dog owners for any damages suffered by a victim of dog bites, irrespective if the dog had shown any vicious tendencies earlier.

Civil Court Standards for California Dog Bites Lawsuits

If a person has been a victim of dog bites injury in California, they can file a lawsuit in response to claim damages for their losses. To be able to file a lawsuit, as per the state’s jury instructions, the person should be able to prove the following:

    • The defendant is the owner of the dog which allegedly has bitten the plaintiff.
    • The plaintiff was bitten by the dog when he or she were in a public place or were lawfully present on private property.
    • The plaintiff suffered harm because of the dog attack.
    • The defendant’s dog had a significant role in causing that harm and injuries to the plaintiff.

If the victim who has been injured in a dog bite case is able to prove the above mentioned elements, then they will be able to recover monetary damages for their losses.

There are several probable parties which may be accounted responsible and liable for the dog attack.

Dog caretaker

If at the time of the dog attack, the animal was under the control of someone else other than the owner, this caretaker or keeper can also be considered liable for the dog bites and other injuries, though not strict liability. In order to make the caretaker liable, he/she should have had prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious tendencies. A caretaker or keeper can be made liable for the dog bites only if they were negligent in controlling the dog.

Property Owners

  • Residential: The residential property owner where the victim sustained dog bites injury, can be held liable if it can be proved that the property owner had knowledge of the presence of a vicious dog on his property. Also if a dog escapes from the property because of improper fencing or security, the property owner can be held responsible and liable for the off-property dog bite injuries caused by the dog.
  • Commercial: : For commercial properties, the landlord is responsible to inspect the premises stringently and discover if there are any dangerous conditions, like a vicious dog. For example, if a tenant on the commercial property has a dog, which attacks any individual, the landlord may be made liable for the same. It is the landlord’s duty to inspect the property, hence cannot avoid responsibility for injuries and damages caused by dog bites, by claiming that he or she had no knowledge of the dog.


In some circumstances, landlords too can be held liable for damages caused due to dog attack. To make a landlord liable, you will need to prove that he had previous knowledge of the tenant’s dog’s viciousness and that he had the right to remove the dog from the premises, but did not.

Other liable parties

Other than the above, there may be many other potential liable parties in a dog attack case, like child day care centers etc. depending upon the case and situation.

In cases, where a dog owner is incapable of completely compensating the victim, identifying the other potentially responsible parties becomes critical to win a lawsuit. Hiring an experienced dog bites lawyer firm will help in investigating the actual facts regarding the dog attack and determine the liable parties.

Another basis for imposing liability for a dog attack in California is basing the attack on negligence or negligence per se. If it can be proven that the dog was not controlled or handled properly, liability on the person can be based on negligently controlling the dog.

However there are a few exceptions to the dog bites law in California, under which an owner cannot be held liable. When veterinarians and other professionals whose profession involves dealing with dogs and handling them, then dog bites are an assumed risk, as they are a part of their job. They cannot sue the owners or caretakers for dog bites suffered while at work. Another instance is when the dog bites or attacks because it was provoked, for example a child hitting the dog with a stick.

As seen above, dog bites and its liability for various parties is possible in California, however attaching that liability to the party requires lot of investigations and legal analysis. People having no legal background, will be forced to deal with painful injuries and financial losses on their own. If you or your family member has been a victim of dog bite injuries in Murrieta, you should take action and get compensated. Our team of dedicated and experienced lawyers at Khasan Law firm, have handled numerous dog bite injury cases in Murrieta and can help you file a lawsuit and help you recover all your damages including medical expenses and psychiatric expenses. You need to gain an understanding of what your legal rights are and what are the possible recovery options available for you. Contact us at 951.461.2387 or (833) BITE-LAW today to schedule a free initial consultation.