Californian’s love their dogs. Unfortunately, (insert stat re. how many dog bites) get bit in California each year. In this blog post, we’ll discuss a few facts about California specific law concerning dog bite injuries and what you should do if you’ve been bit by a dog.

Dog Bite Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations on most personal injury negligence cases is two years in the state of California. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, this statute of limitations would apply. In order to preserve your rights, you must either settle your case or file a lawsuit to preserve the statute of limitation within two years of the date of the incident.

Dog Bite Statute

Section 3342 of the Civil Code covers California’s dog bite law and states that the owner of any dog is liable for damages if:

  • the damages were caused by a dog bite, and
  • the person bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place.

In order for California’s dog bite statute to apply, the injury must be caused by an actual bite, not a lesser cause of injury… For instance, if a child is playing on a sidewalk when a dog jumps on the child, accidentally scratching the child’s eye and causing damage, the dog bite statute would not be applied to this situation. In such a scenario, your California dog bite attorney would apply California’s negligence rules to secure compensation for the injured victim.

“Strict Liability” Dog Bite State

California is a “strict liability” state for dog bites. This means a dog owner cannot escape liability for a dog bite injury simply because they did not know the dog was dangerous or aggressive. The dog owner is responsible for all damages resulting from a dog bite, no matter what. This means even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, a victim is still entitled to compensation. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you only need to prove you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place and appropriately name the correct dog owner in the action. You do not have to show the owner of the dog would bite or failed to use reasonable care to prevent the bite.

Possible Defenses to Dog Bite Liability

A defense of “trespassing” against a dog bite claim might be raised by a California dog owner. However, the dog bite law in California requires an injured person to be either lawfully in a private place or in a public place in order to collect damages from a dog bite injury. If a person who is trespassing unlawfully on private property when a dog bite injury occurs, they might not be able to collect damages in court.

Another defense which could be raised by the dog owner is that the victim provoked the dog with aggressive or otherwise unusual behavior. This information could be used by a jury as a factor to reduce any award for damages. A military or government dog owner could also argue the dog was rightfully carrying out its duties as a police or military dog in order to avoid liability for a dog attack.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a dog, contact us today for a free consultation. Our team at Lahmani Law APC has secured millions of dollars in compensation for injury victims and are prepared to fight for the just compensation you deserve.