Liability of the Owner in Case of Dog Bite

Dog Bite Claim
Dog Bite Liability

California’s dog bite law, Section 3342 of the Civil Code states that the owner of any dog is liable for damages if the damages were caused by a dog bite and the person bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place.

Exceptions for California’s Dog Bite Statute

If a person was bitten by a dog while the dog was carrying out police or military work, the dog bite claim will not be valid. Also the injury must be one which happened due to dog bite  for the claim to be valid. But in those cases where the dog has not bit but have misbehaved with a person in some other way, California’s negligence rules will apply. The argument can be that the dog owner failed to secure the dog properly.

California Is A “Strict Liability” State Concerning Dog Bites

Mostly different states have different rules regarding liability of dog bites. Some states are “Strict liability” states whereas some others are “negligible” states. California is a “strict liability” state which means that, the dog owner cannot escape the liability by saying that he didn’t know that the dog would act violently. He will be held responsible for all damages that results from the dog bite. If one is bitten by a dog and he proves that the dog has bitten him while he was in a public place or while he was lawfully in a private place, the California dog bite law allows him to claim the compensation from the owner of the dog.

It is not necessary to show that the owner already knew that the dog would bite but that he did not take proper measures to prevent that. This would be necessary only if it is not the case of a dog bite but of other type of injury from a dog attack.

Owner’s Defense against a Dog Bite Claim

The only defense that the dog owner can have concerning a dog bite case is that of “trespassing”. If the person bitten by the dog was trespassing a private property when he got bit, this defense can be valid. In case of bites by military or police dogs also, the defense can be that the dog was on official police or military duty when it attacked. In this case the agency which is responsible for the dog must have a written policy for handling its working dogs.

Overall, the California dog bite law is very clear and gives no loopholes for justice to be marred.

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