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DOG BITE LAW IN CALIFORNIA

STRICT LIABILITY - DOG BITE STATUTE

BITE: If a dog "bites" you, the law is on your side.  When a dog bites a person, the dog owner is, with limited exceptions, automatically responsible to pay for that person's injuries, losses, pain, suffering and other damages.  See Civil Code Section 3342(a).

Under this law, a person who owns a dog is legally responsible for the harm from a dog bite, no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their dogs.  This statute took away the so-called "one free bite" rule.

STRICT LIABILITY - DANGEROUS PROPENSITIES

INJURED BUT NO BITE: If a dog attacks but does not bite a person, the the dog owner is, with limited exceptions, automatically responsible to pay for injured persons but only IF the owner knows or should have known about the dog's dangerous or vicious tenancies.  See Drake v. Dean (1993) 15Cal.App.4th 915, 921; Restatement Second of Torts, Section 509.

This law is commonly used to prove liability when the dog did not "bite" the person but injured the person by, for example, knocking a person over. This law is also used in cases where a domestic animal other than a dog caused harm to a person. See Talizin v. Oak Creek Riding Club (1959) 176 Cal.App.2d 429, 437.

NEGLIGENCE

If a dog attacks but does not bite a person, the the dog owner is negligent, and, therefore, liable, when the animal's characteristics, although not abnormal to its class, create a foreseeable risk of harm. and the owner fails to  exercise ordinary care to prevent the harm.   Drake v. Dean (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 915,929.

This law is commonly used to prove liability when the dog did not "bite" the person or a domestic animal other than a dog was involved.

DEFENSES

Typical defenses that the dog owner may are trespassing, comparative negligence and assumption of the risk. 

Provoking the dog is a commonly asserted defense but is, legally, difficult to establish.

See also articles: Who is Liable for a Dog Bite or Attack?

                               California Statute of Limitations

If you have been the victim of a dog bite or dog attack, contact Matthew B. Tozer.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is informational, only. The subject matter and applicable law is evolving and/or constant state of change.  This advice is based on California law.  No legal advice is given and no attorney/client or other relationship is established or intended.  The information provided is from general sources, and I cannot represent, guarantee or warrant that the information contained in this website is accurate, current, or is appropriate for the usage of any reader. It is recommend that readers of this information consult with their own counsel prior to relying on any information on this website.

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