Dog Bite Claims In California

Attacks from dogs can cause serious issues for people including long-term disabilities, loss of their ability to work or care for children, and emotional trauma just to name a few.  In California, there are several remedies under the law that individuals can pursue if they’ve been the victim of a dog bite. Read on to learn more about California dog bite compensation and penalties.

Dog Bite Claims in California

In California, personal injury lawsuits can be filed in state courts by individuals and/or their attorneys.  Section 3342 of the California civil code states that an owner of a dog is liable for damages incurred by another person if those damages were caused by a dog bite and if the individual attacked was in a public area or occupying a private area to which they were invited or mandated to be.  

There are, of course, exceptions if a person is bitten by a dog carrying out its legal duties during the course of law enforcement or military work.  The law is also very clear that damages must have been caused by a dog bite alone, and not by some other action from the dog (such as pawing).

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims

A statute of limitations is a window of time in which a person can file a claim in civil court for damages caused by a dog bite.  Every state has its own statute of limitations and may have varying lengths of time where civil remedies are available to injured parties.  

In the state of California, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury cases under which dog bite incidents apply.  So individuals have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim in court for their rights in a personal injury dog bite case.

Strict Liability State

California is what is known as a strict liability state.  In some states, dog bite personal injury cases allow an element of negligence to be considered.  California however does not consider the owner’s knowledge or lack thereof when determining culpability for dog bite incidents.  In other words, it does not matter if the owner did not know a dog would behave in an aggressive manner. They are still on the hook for damages.  

In other states, victims must prove that the owner was negligent.  For instance, they must prove that the dog owner did something wrong that, in time, resulted in a plaintiff being bitten by the dog.  

Common Defenses

The only defense against a dog bite claim in California is trespassing.  A dog owner must prove their assertion that a victim was present on their property against the law in order to defend against a dog bite claim with success.  This means they must show that a person received clear warning not to come onto a property and/or preventative measures to keep people away from the property where a dog was being kept were taken.

This, in effect, puts the blame of being bitten on the victim for being on property they did not have permission to be on in the first place.

Dog bites can be a very serious incident for both victim and owner. Victims can suffer long-term injuries and emotional harm as the result of an attack.  Owners are often subject to serious financial penalties for dog attacks.