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Every dog owner in California must be aware of the state’s dog bite laws. These rules detail your responsibilities and potential liabilities if your dog bites someone. Under California’s strict liability statute, dog owners can be held liable in many situations where their pet injures another person. This brief guide illuminates the key aspects of these laws, providing insights into when and how the regulations apply, the exceptions to the rule, and recommended actions after an incident.

Overview of California Dog Bite Laws

California stands out for its strict liability dog bite statute, holding dog owners directly responsible for injuries their pets cause through biting, regardless of the animal’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge of such tendencies. This law applies specifically when the bite occurs in a public place or while the victim is lawfully on private property, including the dog owner’s premises. The essence of this statute is straightforward: if your dog bites someone under these conditions, you are likely liable for the resulting damages. This approach aims to protect the public by encouraging owners to control their pets and ensure public safety. It sets a clear legal standard for responsibility in dog bite incidents.

Exceptions to the Rule

While California’s dog bite statute is strict, there are notable exceptions where the owner may not be held liable:

  • Trespassing: If the bite occurs while the victim is unlawfully on private property.
  • Provocation: Liability may not apply if the victim provoked the dog, such as by teasing or hurting it.
  • Law enforcement dog: Owners might not be responsible if the dog was a law enforcement dog performing official duties.

The Role of Negligence in Dog Bite Cases

Negligence can play a role in dog bite cases, expanding the scope of liability beyond strict statutes. When a dog owner fails to exercise reasonable care to prevent their dog from biting, they can be held accountable for any resulting injuries. This includes situations where an owner disregards local leash laws, fails to secure their pet in their yard, or does not take adequate precautions with a dog known to be aggressive. Negligence is determined by what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances to prevent harm. If an owner’s lack of care directly leads to a bite, they may be liable for damages.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Incident

After a dog bite incident, taking immediate and appropriate steps is crucial for dog owners:

  • Provide Aid: Ensure the victim receives necessary medical attention. If possible, offer first aid and contact emergency services.
  • Exchange Information: Share contact details with the victim, including your name, address, and any relevant insurance information.
  • Secure the Dog: Safely confine your dog away from others to prevent further incidents.
  • Report the Incident: Notify local animal control or the police about the bite and provide a detailed account of what happened.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect names and contact information of witnesses, and if possible, take photos of the scene and injuries.
  • Consult a Lawyer: Consider seeking legal advice to understand your obligations and rights following the incident.

Taking these steps can help manage the situation responsibly and mitigate potential legal repercussions.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney

Ardalan & Associates offers comprehensive legal support to dog owners facing bite incident claims. Our team is here to guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected. If you’re navigating the aftermath of a dog bite, contact us today for professional assistance and peace of mind.

About the Author
P. Christopher Ardalan has been a champion for the people since becoming an attorney in 2000 and establishing Ardalan & Associates, PLC. His practice, rooted in Southern California, emphasizes personal injury law where he, alongside a formidable team, tirelessly advocates for his clients. A Cum Laude graduate of California State University, Northridge, and Loyola Law School where he also graduated Cum Laude and Order of the Coif, Ardalan's early legal acumen earned him the moniker “The kid with the golden tongue.” His accolades include numerous mock trial victories, prestigious memberships, and high-profile awards such as being a Litigator Award® recipient and an inductee into ABOTA and the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums. Recognized by both his peers and prestigious legal associations, Ardalan’s relentless pursuit of justice is fueled by a lifelong dedication to learning and a heartfelt commitment to his clients. With a reputation as a seasoned trial lawyer and a compassionate advocate, he finds the greatest fulfillment in making a positive change in his clients’ lives, honoring his role as their voice for justice.