What is the law about dog bites in California?

California ranks first in the number of dog bite claims, and at least one in five dog bites results in injuries that require medical attention. Dog bites can cause severe pain and injuries, and in some cases, these can lead to permanent scarring, disfigurement, and emotional trauma.


California law on dog bites


California Civil Code section 3342 considers the dog owners strictly liable for any injuries their dog causes. Strict liability means that:

  • The dog owner is responsible for the attack even if the dog has no history of violence or aggressive behavior;
  • It is irrelevant if the owner was or was not negligent in supervising his/her dog.


There are only a few exceptions of this rule when you cannot claim for dog bite compensation: 


  • You were trespassing the property of the dog’s owner: in order to be eligible for compensation, the dog attack has to happen on public property or while you are lawfully present on a private one.
  • You provoke the dog just before the attack: if you tease, taunt or cause any harm to a dog before you get bitten, most likely the court will reject your compensation claim.
  • The dog, owned by military or law enforcement, bites the victim while performing its duty.


Dog bite law refers specifically to bites. If you want to pursue other types of injuries caused during a dog attack, such as from jumping on you and knocking you down, it is better to work with a personal injury attorney to represent your case.


Eligible compensation for dog bite cases


Gallagher | Krich, APC lawyers are fully prepared to investigate your unique case and calculate the exact compensation you are entitled to. However, here are the most common damages that you can claim after a dog bite incident:

  • Medical bills and physical therapy costs;
  • Lost income or lost earning capacity;
  • Ongoing disability;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Psychological counseling, etc.

Contact our attorneys online or by phone to discuss your legal options, and file your claim on time!

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