The California dog bite statute of limitations is only two years from the day of the bite.

There are about 4.5 million dog bite injuries every year in the United States. About one million of those bites will be serious enough to require medical attention. The injuries caused by aggressive dogs can be quite serious and sometimes fatal. If a dog injures you, you may be entitled to collect compensation from the dog’s owner for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Like other kinds of lawsuits, California dog bite lawsuits have a limited timeframe during which you are allowed to bring legal action for your claim. Learn what the California dog bite statute of limitations means for your claim.

What Is a “Statute of Limitations?”

A statute of limitations is a law that prescribes how long a person has to bring legal action for a specific kind of claim. The statute of limitations for your case will depend on its jurisdiction (typically the state you live in) and the type of lawsuit. For personal injury lawsuits like a dog bite injury, the injured person will have a set amount of time from the outset of the accident or injury to file her claim (typically 2-4 years in most states). If the victim is not immediately aware of the extent of her injuries, the countdown does not begin until the injury becomes apparent.

Once the statute of limitations has expired, the injured person will be permanently precluded from seeking legal recovery for her injuries. If she waits to file a claim until after the deadline for her claim has passed, her lawsuit will be dismissed.

California Dog Bite Statute of Limitations

Claims to recover damages after a dog bite or other canine-related injury is considered a personal injury claim under California law. The statute of limitations in California for most personal injury claims is two years. The deadline for filing a lawsuit in a dog bite claim would be two years from the day the bite occurred.

California’s Dog Bite Law

The California Civil Code §3342 specifically legislates the liability of dog owners in biting incidents. The law states the owner of the dog is responsible for all injuries caused by a dog bite, as long as the injured person was attacked in a public place or lawfully in a private place (i.e., not trespassing).

Like other states, California is a “strict liability” state pertaining to dog bite injuries. This means the injured person does not need to prove the owner acted negligently to recover compensation for her injuries. Even if the dog has never shown aggression or a potential to bite, a dog owner is responsible for the pet’s behavior and assumes liability for any potential injuries caused by his animal.

California’s dog bite law does not cover dogs working for law enforcement or the military. It also does not include canine-related injuries that do not specifically come from a bite, such as a head injury sustained while being trampled by a mastiff. Although these instances are not covered under the California dog bite statute, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries if the owner of the dog acted negligently. For more information about negligence laws, contact a local personal injury attorney.

Defending a Dog Bite Liability Claim in California

There are only a few potential defenses against a dog bite lawsuit in California. If the injured person was trespassing on private property, the owner may be able to demonstrate he is not liable for the injuries sustained. Many otherwise docile dogs are territorial or protective of “their” property and people. Anyone who handles dogs as part of their employment, such as groomers, dog walkers, or veterinarians, “assume the risk” of being bitten as a work hazard. Law enforcement agencies are typically not responsible for injuries sustained from a working police dog, as long as the injury occurred while the dog was provoked or carrying out his police duties. A civilian dog owner may also assert his animal was provoked when determining the comparative negligence of the victim.

Get Legal Assistance After a Dog Bite Injury

Since the California dog bite statute of limitations is only two years from the day of the bite, it is important to act quickly to ensure a fair recovery for your damages. If you are unsure of the deadline in your case, a lawyer that handles dog bite cases would be happy to help. Preparing for and filing a lawsuit takes time. If you were injured by another person’s dog, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the attack.