NEWPORT BEACH DOG BITE LAWYER
California’s dog bite statute, Civil Code Section 3342, imposes “strict liability” on the owner of a dog for damages caused by its bite to someone who is not trespassing. Specifically, the law states:
The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
This means the owner of a dog who bites someone is legally liable for the injuries caused by their dog’s bite, i.e., a dog owner cannot escape liability by claiming they were unaware their dog was aggressive or had a history of biting people. If you sustained injuries from a dog bite and the dog’s owner is a family member or a friend, it is important to know strict liability makes liability automatic, reducing the conflict that might have otherwise occurred between you and the dog’s owner.
DEFENSES A DOG OWNER CAN RAISE
California’s dog bite statute explains:
A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
When a dog owner can show a person who suffered a dog bite on their property was trespassing at the time of the bite, it can be a complete defense to the claim of a dog bite.
Despite the wording of California’s dog bite statute that clearly limits this defense to military and police, California courts have consistently allowed dog owners to raise a provocation defense where the person who suffered a bite either provoked the dog, caused the attack via their own negligence, or assumed the risk of the attack. Defenses that are encompassed under the provocation umbrella of defenses are determined by the trier of fact, the jury, and can reduce a dog owner’s liability or eliminate it entirely.
There are many other defenses to dog bites that might be raised, including lack of ownership of the dog. Dog bites are particularly fact-specific claims that require careful attention to detail and knowledge of applicable law to get the best possible outcome. If you sustained injuries from a dog bite, call our team of experienced legal professionals now to see if you have a claim.
DOG BITE SUCCESS STORY
We were able to obtain a $342,500 settlement for a client of ours who suffered a dog bite to her forearm. Read more about it, as well as some of our other case results, by clicking below.