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What To Know About Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries in California

Dog bite

Dog bite victims in California have several legal remedies available for seeking compensation for their injuries. The state has specific laws governing dog bite cases, and understanding them is vital for individuals who have suffered a dog attack. 

California follows a strict liability approach to dog bites. Dog owners are held responsible for any injuries caused by their dogs while the victim is in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property. Notably, a dog bite is considered to have occurred whenever a dog’s mouth applies pressure to a victim’s body part, even if no puncturing of the skin occurs.

Strict liability applies regardless of whether or not an animal had a history of viciousness. This is different than in states that adhere to the “one-bite rule,” where owners are liable only if they were aware their dog had aggressive tendencies. California law makes it easier for victims to pursue compensation, as the owner cannot raise such defenses as having taken measure to restrain the dog.

There are exceptions to the strict liability rule, such as in any of these circumstances:

  • The dog was used in police or military work
  • The victim assumed the risk of being bitten, such as in the case of a veterinarian.
  • The victim was trespassing on private property where the bite occurred.

In situations where strict liability does not apply, dog bite victims can pursue a lawsuit based on general negligence. To establish negligence, the victim must demonstrate that the dog’s owner breached a duty of care, such as not properly restraining or controlling the dog, and that this breach directly led to the injury. A negligence claim allows a bite victim to seek compensation even if the dog had not previously exhibited aggressive behavior.

However, California’s comparative negligence rule will reduce the damages recoverable in proportion to the victim’s possible fault, such as any actions taken to annoy or provoke the dog or to threaten danger.

Under California’s statute of limitations, dog bite victims have a two-year window from the date of the incident to initiate legal proceedings. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe may result in the loss of the right to pursue compensation. Consulting with an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible after an attack is the best way to ensure that your case is properly prepared and filed on time. An attorney can also provide valuable guidance and assistance throughout the legal process.

If you or someone you love suffered injury from a dog bite, Pulverman & Pulverman, LLP in Santa Barbara can help obtain financial compensation. We accept dog bite cases on a contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront legal fees. Call us at 805.259.3581 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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