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California's Dogbite Law - Strict Liability

Strict Liability - California's Dog Bite Law
Dog Attack
California Civil Code section 3342(a) sets the standard applicable to dog bite cases: If your dog bites someone, you are strictly liable. This means that the victim does not need to show knowledge, that the owner knew the dog was dangerous, that the owner was careless, or anything like that. The victim only needs to show:

  1. That the defendant owns the dog;
  2. That he (the victim) was on public property, or legally on private property;
  3. That he was harmed; and,
  4. That the dog was a substantial factor in causing the harm.

In most dog bite cases, the dog not only harms the victim, but the only factor in causing the harm. So all you really need to show is that the defendant owns the dog [and there is plenty of legal authority for the proposition that you do not need to show that the "owner" was the "legal owner"] and that you were either on public property, or lawfully upon private property.

Typical damages or injuries from a dog bite are basically ripping of the flesh, tendons and/or ligaments, or other catastrophic injuries and permanent scarring.

Pete Clancy is an Oakland dog bite lawyer, representing plaintiffs in all sorts of personal injury settings. He can be reached through his website, or by calling 925-835-7500.