Dog Bite Laws in California
Brief overview of California dog bite laws. The saying “a dog is a man’s best friend” is consistently confirmed by the love people have for their pets. People treat their dogs like children, buying them the best clothes, toys, and food the market offers. Pet owners are not shy about spending money on their pets, which is evidenced by the pet products industry’s value of $60.59 billion dollars as of 2015. People also take breeding and raising dogs seriously, and there are numerous intensive training programs around the U.S.
Despite the amount of money people willingly spend on their pets in terms of training and products, not every dog is perfectly behaved. Whether it is due to the dog’s nature, lack of training, or feeling threatened, dog bites are a common occurrence. Dog bites can range from minor nips to severe injuries, which is why California enacted dog bite laws specifically addressing the issue.
California Dog Bite Laws
Under California law, dog owners are entirely responsible for the dog’s behavior and strictly liable for the damage caused by their dogs biting someone regardless of the dog’s history of viciousness or whether the incident took place in public or private. By law, the bitten person does not have to prove the owner was at fault or negligent in anyway. The owner cannot argue that he or she did not know the animal would behave as it did. It also does not matter if the dog ever bit anyone before.
Handlers or keepers of the dog may be held liable but not under California’s strict liability statute. A bitten person can sue a handler but must show the defendant knew of the dog’s previous dangerous acts or was negligent in controlling the dog.
Dangerous or Vicious Dogs
California has a dangerous dog statute. This means if the dog that bit an individual was a potentially dangerous or vicious dog under the law, the owners may be fined.
A potentially dangerous dog:
- Has attacked an individual, unprovoked, on two different occasions over the previous 36 months when the individual and dog are not on the owner’s property,
- Has killed, seriously bitten, or injured another domestic animal by attacking unprovoked, on two different occasions over the previous 36 months, when the other animal and dog are not on the owner’s property, or
- Bit an individual, unprovoked, and caused a mild to moderate injury, or
A vicious dog:
- Was previously determined to be dangerous and continues to exhibit dangerous behavior, or
- In an aggressive mean kills or inflicts serious injury on a person despite being unprovoked.
Contact a California Animal Bite Attorney
If you were hurt by someone’s dog, you can potentially recover medical expenses, lost wages from time away from work, pain and suffering, and disfigurement from scars.