In California, dogs are everywhere. It’s one of the most dog-loving states in the country, which means that wherever you go, you’re bound to be near dogs. And even if you don’t intentionally come in contact with dogs, you are still at risk for getting a dog bite. This begs the question of who is liable for dog bites in California? After all, it can be a gray area when determining who should pay for the medical expenses after someone gets bitten. Here are the facts about California dog bite liability.
Dog Owners Are Primarily Responsible for All Dog Bites
According to California law, with few exceptions, dog owners are responsible for any expenses that result from a dog bite from their dog. It doesn’t matter if the dog bite occurs on the owner’s property, another person’s private property, or public property. Dog owners are tasked with the job of making sure their dog doesn’t bite another person.
This is true even at dog parks where signs might tell you that anyone using the dog park is doing so at their own risk. State law always overrides local dog park rules, and in California, the law states that a dog owner must take precautions to prevent dog bites. For this reason, it is recommended that if you own a dog, you have either renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance to protect yourself against dog bite liability risks.
Exceptions to the Rule
As with most laws, there are some exceptions to California’s dog bite liability laws. The main exception is that dog owners may not be held responsible for a dog bite if the person who was bitten trespassed or provoked the dog on the owner’s property. In these cases, the person who was bitten is considered the instigator and will have to cover their own expenses related to the dog bite.
Keep in mind, though, that as the dog’s owner, you will need to prove that the person who suffered the dog bite trespassed on your property or intentionally provoked your dog by teasing it or otherwise. This can be difficult to prove if you don’t have cameras or witnesses, so it might be worth investing in technology that can provide evidence of trespass or provocation to an insurance company or a court of law.
One More Point
California’s dog bite law only covers dog bites to humans. If your dog is attacked by another dog, you will have to pursue damages under regular liability law. You will need to prove that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that their dog presented a danger to other animals. It is challenging to prove such a case, but with the right evidence, it can be done.
Additionally, the dog bite liability law only applies to dog bites. If you are injured by a dog, but not bitten, you’ll need to pursue regular liability damages. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you with this process, so if you’re in this situation, get a consultation.
Dog bites can be scary, painful, and even life-threatening. They can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills. The issue of who is liable in dog bite cases is nuanced and complicated. Check with an attorney if you’re unsure of your rights under the dog bite liability law.