ClickCease Liability of Homeowners For Dog Bites On Their Premises

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Dog Bite Homeowner Premises Liability

When a Homeowner is Liable For Dog Bites On Their Property, Explained by the Top Premises Liability Lawyers

Companionship, responsibility, and stress relief. There are so many reasons to get a dog. However, for some homeowners, their pets provide a special service: protection. Many California residents keep their furry protectors in fenced-in yards or driveways to ward off intruders and alert the family of potential dangers.

However, what happens if man’s best friend gets a little overzealous and bites the mailman or a passing pedestrian? Would you be liable if your dog attacks an intruder? West Coast Trial Lawyers handles dog bite cases in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

California's Dog Bite Statute

According to California dog bite law, the owner of the dog is held liable for damages if:

  • The injury was caused by the dog’s bite or 
  • The victim was lawfully in a private place or bitten in a public area

Though exceptions to these rules exist, such as for police and military dogs, generally the owner will be held liable and must compensate an injured person for the bad behavior of their dog. It is also important to understand that an injury must occur from the bite in order to be considered covered under the California Dog Bite Statute. Scratches and general injuries caused by the dog are not covered by this law, but an injured victim could claim that the owner was negligent in not securing the dog.

California Strict Liability Dog Bite State

Being that California is a “strict liability” state, the owner of the dog would be found liable even if they did not know the dog was going to behave aggressively. The owner is still held liable even if it was the first time the dog has bitten someone or ever shown aggression.

If you’re a victim in a dog bite accident, all you need to do is prove is that you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place and that you have sustained damages.

Does My Dog Have To Be Fenced?

California law has taken a stance against tethering. This means that no one can tie, chain or fasten a dog to any gate, house, or stationary object for more than a short period of time. Furthermore, whenever your dog is outside it must be on a leash, unless in a dog park or in a fenced yard.

Does A Dog Bite Protect Trespassers?

California dog bite law does not cover trespassers. Therefore, if a person is trespassing on a homeowner’s property and is bitten, that person may not collect any damages. This applies on a case by case basis, because children trespassers are treated differently.

In some cases, the dog’s history might be taken into consideration as particularly violent dogs must be kept under stricter conditions.

California’s Dog Bite Statutes of Limitation

In California, the statutes of limitation for personal injury cases is two years. So if someone is bitten and sustains an injury, they have up to two years to bring the case to the court or it will likely be thrown out.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss  of Enjoyment of Life
  • Other Non-Economic Damanges

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact are only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact us to find out how we can help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a premises liability accident, an attorney at our firm can help you  recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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