What Is California’s Dog Bite Statute?

Millions of California families own a dog or multiple dogs, which means that the possibility of a dog attack is also quite common. Different states have different laws when it comes to dog bites and how liability for these attacks is determined. In California, there are very unique laws that every dog owner should know about if they are ever involved in a dog bite attack.

What Rules Does California Follow For Dog Bites?

Many states follow the one-bite rule when it comes to dog bites. The one bite rule provides that the dog owner must have known of a dog’s aggressive behavior in order to be liable for a victim’s injury. However, California is one of the states that does not have a one-bite rule. California’s statute for dig bites is based instead on strict liability.

Strict liability means that a dog owner is legally liable for an injury even if he or she was not negligent. In other words, the owner cannot avoid liability for a dog bite because he or she did not know of the dog’s aggressive or violent behavior. For example, if a victim is bit by a dog in California, the victim only has to prove that:

  • He or she was injured by the dog, and
  • He or she was on public property and not trespassing

How Is Liability Determined?

If these two things can be proven, the dog owner is completely financially responsible for any damages resulting from the dog bite, even if there were no previous signs of aggression from the dog. California law also dictates an extra duty of care on the dog’s owner if the dog has a previous history of bites or aggressive behavior. If the owner fails to take reasonable action to protect others, anyone else can petition to euthanize the dog.

If you or a loved one are a victim of a dog bite, or you should contact a personal injury attorney to receive information on possible options for recovering compensation. Contact Wells, Call, Clark, Bennett & Clawson today for a free consultation.

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