Who is liable when a dog attacks?

Frank S. Clowney III

Dogs may be “man’s best friend,” but dogs are animals and as such can be unpredictable. It is not unusual for a dog to lash out and bite someone. It is important for those in San Diego who have suffered dog bite to understand California dog bite laws, so they can determine how they want to move forward legally.

Strict liability for bite-related injuries

In California, if a dog bites someone, the dog owner is strictly liable for the damages the dog bite victim suffered, as long as the dog bite victim was in a public place or lawfully on someone’s private premises, either expressly or implicitly. The former viciousness of the dog or whether the dog owner knew the dog was vicious does not play a role in strict liability cases.

What about non-bite injuries?

Unlike bite injuries, if a dog causes a non-bite injury in California, the injured person can pursue a negligence claim. The dog owner will not be strictly liable. Instead, the injured person must be able to prove that the dog owner failed to use reasonable care, leading to the injury.

Seek assistance if you are the victim of a dog bite

Dog bite injuries can be catastrophic. Dog bite scars can be disfiguring and can require extensive medical care to treat. This means costly medical bills, emotional distress and pain and suffering. This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice nor can it promise any specific outcome in a dog bite case. Those in San Diego who have been bitten by a dog may want to discuss their situation with a personal injury attorney to learn more about pursuing damages.