Free Consultations / No Fees Until We Win  (213) 927-3700

Ranked #1

Personal Injury Firm in Los Angeles

Ranked #1

Personal Injury Firm in Los Angeles

Who Is Liable In Dog Bite Cases?

California Dog Bite Liability Laws Explained

Dog attacks are very common in the Los Angeles area, which is unfortunate because dog attacks are mostly preventable when dog owners act responsibly. While the majority of people shower their furry friends with love and affection, not everyone treats their animals humanely, even neglecting or abusing them. If you were bitten by a dog you may have been surprised by its strength and athleticism. Some dog jaws actually have the strength to exert as much as 600 pounds of pressure per bite.

Beyond injuries and emotional trauma, a dog bite can carry serious legal implications. With your safety and well-being in mind, we’ve compiled the most important dog bite liability laws you must know about in the state of California. We’ve also included several resources to assist you in the unfortunate event of a dog bite.

If you or a loved one was injured in a dog attack, it’s important that you speak with a Los Angeles dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced team of Los Angeles dog bite lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers understands what you are going through, and we will fight to recover all the compensation you are entitled to if you or a loved one was the victim of a dog attack.

Dog Bite Statistics And Strict Liability

Young children are at the greatest risk of being attacked by a dog, and almost half of all children under twelve will suffer at least one dog bite in their lives. In fact, children are involved in 79% of all fatal dog attacks, which is a shocking figure.

A liable dog owner was responsible for more than $686 million in dog related injury costs in as recently as 2017, with an average dog bite claim totalling about $37,000. In total, insurance companies spend over $1 billion a year in dog bite settlements.

More alarming dog bite statistics:

  • More than 1,000 people a day will require emergency medical care after a serious dog bite injury.
  • Every 75 seconds a person is bitten by a dog.
  • More than 6,750 U.S. Postal Service workers were the victim of a dog attack in 2016.
  • 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States.
  • 1 in 5 dog bites will become infected.

California’s Dog Bite Statute — Strict Liability

California Civil Code Section 3342 states that a dog owner is liable for damages when:

  • The injuries were caused by a dog bite.
  • The victim was bitten while in a public place or lawfully on private property.

This statute has exceptions for victims who suffered a dog bite injury while a dog was doing police or military work. Also, an injury must be caused by a dog bite, and not by another behavior on the dog’s part.

For example, imagine a young girl is reading a book on the sidewalk when a dog jumps on her, accidentally scratching the child’s face and causing minor injuries. However, because the child’s injury was not caused by an actual bite, this statute will not apply. Instead, ordinary negligence rules will apply where the victim must prove that the dog owner’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries.    

When it comes to dog bites, California is a strict liability state, which means that a dog owner cannot escape liability for a dog bite even if he or she had no idea that their dog would behave aggressively. A dog owner will be held responsible for any damages resulting from a dog bite, whether the dog had bitten someone before or not.

In summary, if you suffered a dog bite, you only need to prove the bite occurred when you were in a public place or lawfully on someone’s private place. So there is no requirement to prove that the dog owner was negligent or did something wrong. 

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims and Lawsuits

All states have a statute of limitations that places a deadline on filing personal injury lawsuits. A dog bite suit is considered a personal injury claim, and California’s statute of limitations on a personal injury case is two years. This means that an injured person has two years from the time the bite occurred to file a case in court.

What About Instances Of Dog Attacks without Biting ?

If a dog attack (without biting) results in injury, the injured person may recover damages against the dog owner only if the victim can establish that the dog owner’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the dog attack or failing to prevent the dog attack. A good example is when a dog scratches victim’s face.  Another good example is when a dog bites a bicyclist’s wheel and causes the bicyclist to crash and get injured. In these situations, the dog owners are not strictly liable. Instead, claimants must prove that the dog owners acted negligently. For example, proving that the dog that was not on its leash when the incident occurred may be enough to show that the dog owner was negligent.  

Our Team is Here to Help

If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite or attack in the Los Angeles area, contact an experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyer at West Coast Trial Lawyers today. Our attorneys will help get you the maximum compensation for your short and long-term medical care and other losses and damages. Consultations with a dedicated Los Angeles dog bite lawyer at our firm are always free, and you only pay when we get you compensation for your injuries. You can reach our friendly staff today by emailing us at or by calling toll free at (213) 927-3700.

Return to Top
Call| Text | Chat
Text Us Call Us