Dog bite

Who is liable for a dog bite In California?

When a person owns a dog, he or she is legally responsible for preventing their dog from injuring, attacking people, or damaging property. If a dog hurts or attacks someone, the owner may be liable to reimburse the victim for medical costs and other expenses. You should be aware of the California dog bite laws.

Dog Bite Liability Law

More than fifty percent of the states in the United States of America have strict liability statutes where the owner is held liable for the incident without the victim having to prove the negligence of the owner or that the dog owner had previous knowledge the dog was dangerous.

Some states follow the one-bite rule which does not hold the dog owner liable for a dog bite unless the dog is known to have bitten before. However, California is a strict liability state with regards to dog bite claims.

This means that as per the dog bite law in California the owner is liable for the injuries and damages caused by their dog whether it’s the dog’s first bite or not.

What is the California Dog bite law? Who can be held responsible for a dog bite in California?

Many parties could be held liable for compensating the victim of a dog bite attack in California.

When a person is attacked or injured by a dog, the victim may have to incur expenses and bear a number of losses. Mainly the victim of the attack may require medical attention and even surgery. Moreover, the victim may end up missing work due to injuries or hospitalization. This can impact his/her paycheck. A dog bite can be traumatic, there can be emotional damages too.

So, who can be held liable for compensating the victim for the losses and damages? The California dog bite law states that several parties can be held responsible and liable to pay the compensation.


California follows the strict liability law with respect to dog bites. In simple words, the California dog bite law states that the dog owner is liable for the damages whether it is the first instance of attack or not. He or she may or may not have acted negligently, yet they can be held liable. However, they can be held liable only when the following is true:

  • The dog was not provoked by the victim.
  • The victim was not trespassing the property
  • The dog is not part of the law enforcement or military squad and was assisting a handler

As long as the above-mentioned conditions are fulfilled, the California dog bite law states that the victim of a dog bite is not required to prove that the dog owner’s negligence in order to be compensated.


There are several instances in which the insurance company of the dog owner will compensate a victim for their medical bills. As per information provided by the Insurance Information Institute, in the year 2015 California had the highest number of dog bite claims in the whole country.

However one needs to understand that these insurance policies can tend to fall short of providing the victim with funds to cover their every loss.

There are policy limits that restrict the amount of payment reimbursed to the victim. Moreover, an insurance policy does not consider the intangible damage that occurred like emotional trauma or psychological impact. In such situations, it is best if the victim files a dog bite lawsuit against the owner to recover rightful compensation.


The landlord of the property can be held liable for a dog bite or dog attack. A number of court cases have set a precedent for this issue. It is applicable when a landlord was aware of the viciousness and aggressiveness of a dog on the property and yet did not take any proper action or measures. In normal circumstances, a landlord is expected to take reasonable care and remove the threat of any dangerous situation on his property. This includes removing an animal that can attack. The dog bite liability is applicable for landlords of both commercial and residential

Getting in touch with a Dog Bite Lawyer

If you have been a victim of a dog bite attack, it is advisable to speak with a specialized Dog bite lawyer to find out how the local laws are applicable in your situation and what steps you need to take to receive fair compensation.


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