What to Know About Dog Bites in California

What to Know About Dog Bites in California

Dogs are referred to as “man’s best friend.” Ask any dog owner, and they will say they consider their dog a family member. However, even though a dog is a “man’s best friend,” the reality is that sometimes dogs bite people and cause injuries or even death. If you were bitten by a dog in California, you likely have some questions about the state’s law on dog bites. Here are answers to some of your questions about dog bites in California.

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite in California?
In California, dog owners are liable for most dog-bite injuries. According to California’s dog bite statute, a dog owner is liable for damages if;

  • The damages resulted from a dog bite; and
  • The individual bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place when the bite occurred.

Note: For the purpose of the California dog bite statute, any person carrying out a legal duty, such as delivering mail, is lawfully on private property.

Is California a Strict Liability Dog Bite State?
States in the United States of America are either strict liability or negligence states. So, is California a strict liability or negligence dog bite state? California is one of the strict liability dog bite states. That means that a person who gets bitten by a dog in California does not need to prove the dog owner acted negligently to recover compensation for damages suffered.

What is Considered a Bite Under California’s Dog Bite Law?
Some people assume that a dog bite occurs only when a dog grabs someone with its teeth and breaks the person’s skin. However, the truth is that if a dog grabs you with its teeth but does not break the skin, that could still be considered a bite.

For instance, in the case of Johnson v. McMahan (1998), the court held that the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries even if the plaintiff had not suffered a bite wound. The court ruled that the California dog bite statute applied in the case even if the dog only seized the plaintiff’s pants within its jaws and pulled, causing the plaintiff to fall and suffer injuries. In other words, even if you do not suffer a wound, you may still be able to recover compensation under the state’s dog bite statute if a dog grabbed you with its jaws and caused you to suffer injuries in another way.

However, it is crucial to note that a case where a victim did not suffer a dog bite wound can be complex. So ensure you retain a skilled attorney.

If you suffered a dog bite in California and are unsure about how to proceed, you can start by seeking the help of an experienced dog bite lawyer at Hayes Law. Contact us today.