When Is A Pet Owner Liable For A Dog Bite In California?

Having a dog bite you may be a harrowing experience, especially if the bite leaves you with a painful injury or unsightly wound. Some states across the nation have a “one-bite rule” in place that allows a dog to bite someone one time before the state takes action against the animal. However, this is not the case in California.

The California Legislature outlines who and when an owner is responsible when their dog bites another individual.

When an owner is liable

California is a “strict liability” state. This means the dog owner is typically liable anytime a dog bites you when you are in a public place, or lawfully in a private place, such as the owner’s home after the owner invited you inside or on the property. This remains true regardless of whether the animal does or does not have a history of biting or attacking people.

When an owner is not liable

There are rare instances and situations where the owner of a dog may not be responsible for the animal biting someone. If the party who suffered the bite was trespassing on a particular property, then the animal owner is not going to be responsible for a dig bite that occurred during the offense. If the dog who bites you or someone else is part of a law enforcement or government agency, this may also affect liability. If a dog bite victim does something to encourage the bite, this, too, might impact liability in the event of a bite.

A dog bite does not have to reach a certain level of severity for a pet owner to take responsibility for it.