The California Strict Liability Law Protects Dog Bite Victims
A California strict liability law offers protection for dog bite victims in San Diego, CA. Our state’s dog bite statute means that in many cases, there is no need to prove negligence for injuries that have been caused by a dog attack. If you were bitten while visiting the home of a neighbor, you are entitled to compensation as long as you were not physically provoking the animal.
To ensure full compensation for your injuries and losses from a dog bite, it is important to retain the services of a personal injury attorney. Our San Diego law firm has over three decades of experience negotiating with insurance companies to maximize our clients’ settlements. To schedule a free consultation, please contact our office today.
California’s Dog Bite Statute
California Civil Code section 3342 states that a dog owner is liable for damages suffered by any person bitten in a public place or while lawfully visiting a private place. It is not relevant whether or not the dog had previously attacked someone or if the owner had knowledge of prior viciousness. The owner is responsible, and his or her liability insurance policy must pay for the victim’s damages, which might include medical treatment costs, lost wages, and more.
The statute can be particularly helpful when a victim is injured by friend or family member's dog. The victim can still pursue compensation without having to accuse the dog owner of negligence or wrongdoing, making it easier to preserve the relationship.
Our state’s dog bite statute means that in many cases, there is no need to prove negligence for injuries that have been caused by a dog attack.
The strict liability law only applies to owners of dogs, not keepers or handlers, and it does not apply when a victim is injured solely by being knocked down or tripped. The dog must bite the victim and there must be actual injury involved. Additionally, the victim must not have provoked or aggravated the dog. It is important to note that the provocation part of the law does not apply to children under age 5.
There are a few other exceptions to the strict liability law. The statute does not apply if:
- The victim of the attack was trespassing on the property
- The dog was on duty in a police or military capacity
- The victim was injured while performing a paid service, such as that of a veterinarian or pet groomer (who assume the risk of a bite as part of their profession)
- The dog was owned by the employer of the victim, and the bite occurred on the job (where workers’ compensation insurance is involved)
When Negligence Applies
If a dog bite injury or wrongful death is not covered by the strict liability statute, plaintiffs can pursue compensation in other ways. For example, if a keeper (rather than owner) of the dog is responsible for the attack, the plaintiff may be able to demonstrate that negligence was involved. This is true of any exception to the statute’s application, including trespassing.
It is the responsibility of a dog owner or handler to follow city leash laws and prevent a dog from running loose around young children. If a dog is known to snap or has shown tendencies along this line, the dog keeper can be found negligent for not taking the appropriate precautions to avoid an attack.