Dog Bite Liability in California

Dog Bite Liability in California Bates Law

Dogs are usually the source of limitless joy and happiness. They are a companion, a friend, and a cuddle buddy that usually acts purely out of loyalty. However, if a dog is scared, angry, or simply poorly trained, they can lash out at an individual and bite them. If you own a dog that bites someone or are the victim of a dog bite in San Diego, it is important to fully understand dog bite liability in California.

What is the California Dog Bite Statute of Limitations?

The first thing to be aware of is the statute of limitations for a dog bite in California. A statute of limitations is the time frame in which you are still legally able to sue another party for an injury or offense, and in California, the statute of limitations for dog bites is two years. That means that the adult injured party has two years from the day they got bit to file a court case against the owner of the dog. This is different for Minor’s who have not yet reached the age of 18. If you file a lawsuit after the two-year statute of limitations, the defendant will likely raise the statute of limitations as a defense and your case will be dismissed.

When is a Dog Owner Liable for Damages?

According to civil code section 3342, the owner of a dog is liable if the bite caused damages and if the bite occurred in a public place or the individual was lawfully in a private place. California is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites, meaning owners cannot claim ignorance to the actions of their dog. The dog and its behavior is the responsibility of the owner, even if they have shown no previous signs of aggression. This is called the one-bite rule, meaning an owner is liable even if they had no reason to believe the dog would ever bite anyone or if it has never bitten anyone before.

What are the Exceptions to California’s Dog Bite Statute?

There are a few notable exceptions to the California dog bite statute found in civil code section 3342.

What if the Dog Bit a Trespasser on Private Property?

Since California dog bite statute requires the bitten individual to be in a public place or lawfully on private property, a trespasser may not be able to collect damages. However, that requires proving that the person who got bit had no legal right to be on the private property, which will be determined in court.

Bates Law, APC are Dog Bite Liability Experts in San Diego

If you are the victim of a dog bite or own a dog that has bitten someone, contact Bates Law, APC in San Diego. We know the California dog bite liability rules in civil code section 3342 better than everyone, and we can advise you on how best to proceed. If you are interested in learning more or filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact Bates, APC today. Give us a call at (619) 222-0900.


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