Laws About Dog Bites in California

Dogs are a part of the family. They are sad when we leave and they are the most excited person in the house when we get home. We love them and they love us.

But dogs are animals with animal instincts. On occasion, those instincts overcome their domestication and they lash out. Maybe someone touched them too aggressively or the dog became scared. Maybe that someone was even you or your child. Regardless of who the dog bit, California has strict laws on what happens when a dog bites a human.

California Dog Owners are Liable for Dog Bites

According to California law, the owner of a dog is liable for the injuries caused by their dog. This is a strict liability law which means there are very few exceptions. But in most circumstances, dog owners are liable for the injuries their dog causes. This law applies in public and on your private property, so long as the injured person was invited onto your property.

What about Dog Walkers?

Unless a dog walker, a dog handler, or a friend who is walking the dog does something proactive to cause the dog to bite someone, they are not liable. But the owner of the dog is still liable for the injuries to the person who received a bite even if the dog was under someone else’s control.

What are the Exceptions?

Trespassers on your property who are injured by a dog bite may not be able to hold you completely liable for their injuries. However, it’s worth noting if you train your dog to attack anyone who enters your property, a court may find that unreasonable behavior and hold you liable for the injuries suffered by the trespasser. Otherwise, the trespasser will have to show you were negligent in order to successfully sue you for their injuries.

What about the Dog?

If a dog attacks a human or another animal twice within a three-year period or if a dog bites a human once and causes minor injuries, California classifies the dog as potentially dangerous. This classification requires dog owners to keep the dog locked up behind a fence or indoors at all times. If no other attacks occur within three years, the dog is removed from the potentially dangerous classification.

If, however, a dog has severely injured or killed a human, they are classified as vicious. This classification requires a hearing before a judge where the dog may be transferred to animal control where it is euthanized. This may sound extreme, but it is done to protect the safety of not only your family but also the surrounding community.

Contact Your Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorneys

Dog bites happen. Sometimes they are provoked and sometimes not. If you have been injured by a dog bite, you deserve vigorous representation to protect your rights. The dog bite attorneys of Steinberg Injury Lawyers are ready to help you. Our seasoned attorneys have extensive experience handling dog bite injury cases just like yours. Contact us today by calling 1-800-350-8888 for a free, no obligation evaluation of your case.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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