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California, known for its stunning landscapes and diverse communities, is also home to countless furry companions, cherished members of our families. But what happens when man’s best friend turns aggressive, and a joyful interaction transforms into a painful ordeal? That’s where understanding California’s dog bite laws becomes essential.

In this informative blog, brought to you by Kirakosian Law, your trusted legal ally in California, we delve into the intricacies of California’s dog bite laws. Whether you’re a dog owner, a victim of a dog bite, or simply an individual interested in the rights and responsibilities related to these incidents, we are here to shed light on this important aspect of California law.

From the legal definition of dog bites to liability, negligence, and the rights of victims, we will explore the comprehensive landscape of dog bite laws in the Golden State. With our guidance, you’ll gain a clear understanding of how the legal system operates in cases involving dog bites and what steps to take if you find yourself in such a situation.


OW! My Neighbor’s Dog Just Bit Me!

In California, dog owners have a significant responsibility when it comes to dog bites. They are held accountable for all dog bites that occur in public places or on their own property, but with an important condition – the victim must be on their property lawfully. This includes bites that happen in the owner’s home, as long as the victim is there with permission or for a lawful reason. When is someone considered a lawful visitor?

A person is considered a lawful visitor on private property if they are there as part of their duties mandated by California laws, federal laws, or postal regulations. They also fall under this category if they have been expressly or implicitly invited by the property owner. These lawful visitors are afforded legal protection under the California dog bite law.

One key aspect of California’s dog bite law is strict liability. Unlike certain other states that apply “one-bite” rules or require evidence of prior aggression, California holds dog owners responsible for all bites. It doesn’t matter whether the dog has bitten someone before, or if the owner had reason to believe the dog might bite. The focus is on ensuring victims have legal recourse.

What Counts as a Bite?

A dog bite in California encompasses more than just instances where the skin is broken. Even if the dog’s teeth grab a person, it qualifies as a bite. For example, if a dog clamps onto a person’s clothing and this leads to a fall or injury, it still falls under the legal definition of a dog bite. The law is designed to provide legal protection to victims who may suffer physical harm or injuries due to falls caused by a dog’s actions, whether or not the skin is broken.


What Happens If A Dog Bites A Trespasser?

In California, dog bite laws generally do not provide protection for trespassers. The state’s strict liability rules apply only when a dog bites someone who is in a public place or is considered to be on the dog owner’s property “lawfully.”

In most cases, a dog owner won’t be held responsible if their dog bites a trespasser and causes injury. That’s the standard according to California’s Civil Code.

However, there’s a small chance that a trespasser could potentially hold the owner liable if they can prove that the owner was somehow negligent. But proving negligence in such cases can be quite challenging. Furthermore, California’s dangerous-dog laws specify that a dog cannot be labeled as potentially dangerous or vicious based solely on its history of biting a trespasser.

In a nutshell, California’s dog bite law holds dog owners strictly liable for bites only when the incident happens in a public place or when the victim is on private property lawfully. Trespassers, who are not on the property lawfully, typically do not have the same legal protections, making it challenging for them to seek compensation for dog bite injuries.


My Dog Didn’t Bite But He Did Hurt Someone…

California’s strict liability statute doesn’t extend to victims who have been injured by dogs in ways other than biting. For example, if a dog causes an accident by attacking a bicycle or chasing a motorcyclist, the strict liability rule does not come into play.

But this doesn’t mean there are no options for victims in such situations. Injured individuals may still have the opportunity to seek compensation if they can demonstrate that their injuries resulted from the dog owner’s negligence. For instance, let’s say a dog jumps on a child who’s playing on the sidewalk and ends up scratching the child’s eye. If the child’s parents decide to file a lawsuit, they would need to prove that the dog owner did not exercise reasonable care in controlling the dog, such as by using a leash or keeping the dog in a fenced area.

It’s important to note that strict liability rules in California only pertain to dog bites, not to all incidents involving dogs. This means that a victim who has been harmed in a different way by a dog generally needs to establish that the owner’s negligence was the direct cause of the incident.


Compensation for Dog Bites Under California Dog Bite Law

In the unfortunate event of a dog bite in California, victims have legal avenues to seek compensation for their injuries and related damages. This compensation covers a range of economic and non-financial losses, including:







If you’ve been a victim of a dog bite, it’s crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced California dog bite accident lawyer. They can help you understand the types of damages available and provide valuable support in securing the full compensation that the California dog bite law allows.

Understanding the basics of dog-bite liability and knowing the necessary steps to take after an incident is essential for both owners and victims. Familiarizing yourself with how California law applies in these situations is equally important. In more severe cases, seeking a local attorney with the right expertise can make a significant difference in your case.

If you’ve experienced a dog bite incident and need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Kirakosian Law. Our experienced dog bite lawyers are here to help you navigate the complexities of California’s dog bite laws and to ensure your rights are protected. Your well-being and justice matter to us. Get in touch today to discuss your case and take the first step towards the compensation you deserve.