California Dog Bite Law: Civil Code § 3342
According to California Law, Section 3342, the dog owner is liable for the damages it causes a victim who is bitten by the dog. The dog bite can occur in a public or private place, including the dog owner’s property.
The dog owner is liable for such damage regardless of the fact that the dog never displayed such viciousness in the past. This applies to victims who are on the dog owner’s property legally. This includes those conducting business on the property—such as postal workers—or those invited onto the property by the owner, such as guests.
There are some exceptions to this law, however. A person cannot bring a claim against any government agency that uses a dog for police or military work if the bite occurs while the dog was assisting an employee and simply doing its job.
Also, if any dog bites another person while defending itself from a provoking, annoying or harassing act, then the dog owner likely will not be held liable.
In addition, the law applies to situations where an actual dog bite has occurred. If a person is injured by a dog’s jumping or scratching, then they are not covered under this law. However, they do they have the legal right to file a negligence claim against the dog owner.
California also has laws that place extra responsibility on the dog owner if a previous attack has occurred. Under California Law, Section 3342.5, an owner of a dog who has previously bitten a person must take reasonable care to prevent future bites from occurring. Once a dog has bitten a person on two separate occasions, the district attorney will assess the situation and look at the circumstances to see if the dog owner took the appropriate steps to keep the dog away from others and prevent a dangerous situation from occurring.
Depending on the facts involved, the district attorney may take the appropriate steps to prevent such a situation in the future. This may include removing the dog from the home, or in extreme cases, euthanizing the dog.
Return to top ↑