When are dog owners responsible for bites inflicted by their pet?

Frank S. Clowney III

Dogs may be man’s best friend but they are animals and like any other animals they may lash out and bite. Dog bites can lead to serious injuries, disfigurement and emotional distress. It is important that people in California who have been bitten by a dog understand state dog bite laws so they can make informed decisions should they decide to pursue compensation.

When are dog owners liable for dog bites?

Under California law, if a person is in a public place or is lawfully on a person’s private property and they are bitten by a dog then the dog owner may be liable for the injuries the dog bite victim suffered. This is true even if the dog had not acted viciously in the past or if the dog owner was unaware of their pet’s viciousness. A person is lawfully on a person’s private property if they have a duty to be there per state law or postal regulations or if they have either the express or implied invitation of the property owner.

When is a dog “potentially dangerous” or “vicious?”

A dog will be considered potentially dangerous under the following circumstances. First, if a dog bites someone unprovoked on two separate occasions within a 36-month period and the dog bite victim must take preventative action to stop bodily injury, or if the dog attacked and injured or killed a domestic animal off the dog owner’s property.

A dog will be considered vicious if they aggressively inflict serious injuries or kill a person, even if the person did not provoke the dog. A dog will also be considered vicious if they were previously determined to be listed as potentially dangerous and the dog owner knows of this.

Learn more about dog bites in California

Those in San Diego who have been bitten by a dog may have many concerns about their health and future. Dog bite injuries can be severe or even fatal. It is important that dog bite victims understand their rights and options for pursuing compensation. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on dog bites in California may be of interest to those who want to learn more about this topic.