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Can Dog Bite Accidents be a Premises Liability Issue?

Yes, a dog bite accident can be a premises liability issue if the dog belonged to the owner of the property where the bite occurred. The dog’s owner can be liable for the harm the dog causes, whether the bite happens on the owner’s property or at another location.

Dog bite injuries can cause disfigurement, loss of use of body parts, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other damages. You do not have to take on the dog owner’s insurance company by yourself. 

California premises liability attorneys can handle your injury claim and advocate on your behalf so that you can focus on getting better.

California allows recovery of money damages for dog bites under a theory of strict liability or premises liability. California Civil Code Section 3342 says that the owner of a dog will have to pay damages if the dog bites someone who was in a public place or lawfully on private property. 

What happens if the dog owner wasn’t acting negligent?

There is no requirement that the defendant was negligent. The defendant will have to pay damages, even if:

  • The dog never bit anyone before.
  • The owner took all possible precautions to prevent a dog bite accident.
  • The owner had no reason to believe that the dog was or could be aggressive or a danger to people.

There are exceptions to strict liability under California Civil Code Section 3342:

  • The victim harassed, provoked, hurt, or annoyed the dog. These actions make the victim partially at fault for the incident.
  • The victim worked at a veterinarian’s office or a kennel, and thereby assumed the risk of a dog bite. Still, if the defendant was negligent, the plaintiff can pursue an action for money damages under a theory of negligence, instead of strict liability.
  • The victim got bitten by a police dog or another type of law enforcement dog while the dog was performing military or police duties.
  • The victim was unlawfully trespassing on the defendant’s property when the bite occurred. You are legally on private property if the owner invited you or you are performing a legal duty, like delivering mail or reading a meter.

The law enforcement exception applies when the dog was defending itself from harassment, annoyance, or provocation when in police or military work, or assisting an employee of a law enforcement or military agency to:

  • Investigate a crime or possible crime.
  • Serve a warrant.
  • Defend a peace officer or another person.
  • Apprehend or hold a suspect when there is a reason to suspect that the suspect was involved in criminal activity.

The military or law enforcement exceptions do not apply to innocent bystanders. An innocent bystander is someone who was not a suspect, participant, or party to the conduct that led to the use of the dog in the police or military activity. Also, the police or military agency must have a written policy about the circumstances in which it will be necessary and appropriate to use a dog in their work, in order to qualify for an exception to the strict liability exception. 

California personal injury attorneys can go after the liable party for money damages, but only if you do not miss the deadline for taking legal action. Our state gives you very little time to file a lawsuit for dog bites injuries. Contact us today.

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No matter who the opposing party is, they can’t outwork, outwit or outspend Compass Law Group, PC. We will do everything that is necessary to win the case, and we’re here to help victims fight back against those who injured them.

To learn more, contact our law office today and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

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