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Bit by a Dog? Know Your Legal Rights

Many factors can contribute to the cause of a dog bite. The dog owner may have abandoned the responsibility of properly training their dog or the injured person could have intentionally angered the dog to attack. In order to determine which party should be held accountable for damages caused by a dog bite, legal actions must be pursued.

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our qualified California dog bite attorneys are readily available to offer legal assistance to victims of personal injury. We have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. With our track record of winning more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients, we are confident that we will deliver a good outcome to your case.

To schedule a free consultation, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling 213-927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form.

California Dog Bite Laws

California is a strict liability state. Under California Civil Code Section 3342, if a dog bite occurred in a public area or lawfully on private property, the dog owner will be held liable for damages. However, this may not apply if the victim was being bitten by a dog that was engaging in police or military work.

Furthermore, the dog bite must have happened without the victim triggering or teasing the dog. For example, Michael was tugging the dog’s tail with the full intention of aggravating it. The dog continued to growl and flash its teeth to warn Michael that it is ready to attack. Michael noticed the warning signs but continued to tease the dog. The dog outgrew its patience and aggressively bit Michael’s hand. Under this circumstance, Michael could be found responsible for deliberately influencing the dog to attack him.

If a dog attack only consisted of a scratch, the victim is not entitled to file a dog bite claim against the owner. For example, Sandy was walking on the sidewalk. Moments later, a dog aggressively jumped on her. As the dog continued to grab onto Sandy, its claws scratched her face. Sandy sustained minor injuries. Since this injury was not a dog bite, the law will not apply. Instead, California’s negligence rule will become effective, meaning that the injured person will have to show proof of the dog owner’s negligence being the main cause of the injuries they sustained.

One Bite Law

The “one bite rule” has been adopted by many states. Under this law, a dog owner will not face liability for a dog bite unless they knew that their dog bit someone before or has a history of being aggressive. California does not follow the one-bite rule. Instead, the state imposes strict liability after a dog bite.

In California, the injured victim is not required to show proof of the following:

  • The dog displayed violent behavior.
  • The dog owner’s negligence was the ultimate cause of the dog bite.
  • The dog had bitten the victim before.

If a dog owner was aware of their dog’s aggression, yet they failed to take any reasonable action to prevent the dog from causing harm to others, then the dog owner will be held liable for damages.

Am I Liable if My Dog Bit a Trespasser?

A trespasser is someone who is not legally permitted to enter your property. A property owner may only provide reasonable care to a trespasser, meaning that the property owner will generally not be held accountable for any damages as long as they maintain reasonably safe conditions on their premises.

To keep the property in a safe, hazard-free condition, there should be no obvious dangers present. If potential hazards are seen, a warning sign should be available to notify others. This duty of care applies to hazards that are reasonably foreseeable, such as dog attacks. 

If a property owner does not have any warning signs available to inform others of how dangerous their dog could be, the property owner could be held liable for any damages caused by their negligence. The dog breed will also be taken into consideration when determining liability.

If the property owner is fully aware of their dog’s aggression and provides reasonable safety measures, the trespasser will not be entitled to receive any damages from getting attacked. For example, the property owner had a “BEWARE OF DOG” sign attached to their fence. Behind the fence appeared to be an aggressive dog that was directly barking at the trespasser. Even though the trespasser acknowledged the warning sign and the hostile behavior the dog was displaying, the trespasser continued to make their way into the property. Under this condition, the trespasser will not be entitled to receive anything as they were fully aware that they were likely to get bitten by the dog if they entered the property.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help 

If you have sustained injuries as a result of someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible for your losses. Our California dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can recover compensation for the losses you have suffered.

Contact us today by calling 213-927-3700 or filling out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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