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Modified: November 20, 2022

Dog Bites and Premise Liability – When Are Property Owners Responsible for Dog Bites?

Are you the victim of a dog attack on private or public property? Being attacked by a dog is something that happens on your own property or someone else’s property. We all have a reasonable expectation we won’t be bitted at a retail store or someone’s house. After all, dogs are friendly furry companions to their dog owner and a man’s best friend if taken care of properly. However, constant neglect, improper training, and lack of socialization can make dogs aggressive and threaten others around them.

The dog owner’s negligence or not can still hold them legally responsible in California, as there is no one-bite rule here like many states follow. If the landlord knew of the danger, they, too, are responsible for the failure to maintain a safe environment for trespassers, as well as invited guests, to prevent injury by a vicious dog. Below, our superior Los Angeles dog bite attorneys will make you aware of your rights and how to protect your child or other loved one after becoming the victim of a dog.

A Truly Traumatic Experience

Unfortunately, a dog bite injury can be an emotionally traumatic experience and financially taxing on the injured person. Besides spending on medical treatment, you may also experience lost wages from the time taken off work due to the injury. Most dog bites occur at home or in a familiar place, meaning the accident falls under premise liability. You can file a claim for recovering damages for minor to serious injuries and even wrongful death.

We can make sure the at-fault party is held responsible and even help you sue. Ehline Law and our California dog bite premise liability lawyers have the experience handling dog bite cases and knowledge of California dog bite laws to handle your personal injury claim and fight for the compensation victims deserve.

First, contact us for a free consultation with our legal experts if a dog or a loved one attacks you. Learn more about forming an attorney-client relationship to recover compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. Discuss your circumstances and harm with a compassionate dog bite lawyer now at (213) 596-9642.

California Dog Bite Statute

Under California Civil Code Section 3342, there is a strict liability statute, meaning the dog owner is held strictly liable in a dog bite case where their pet attacks someone on public or private property. (the victim was lawfully there).

Dog Bites and Premise Liability in California

Premise liability laws hold negligent homeowners responsible for accidents and injuries occurring to someone on their property. In California, property owners have a duty of care and must take “reasonable care” to ensure the protection of guests and invitees on their property.

In most instances, people associate premises liability with swimming pool drowning, slip and fall, construction site, and mall accidents. But what many do not realize is that although dog bites fall under strict liability in California, it also falls under premises liability.

Under premises liability, a dog’s owner must ensure that they adequately restrain their pets, especially if the animal has a history of violent attacks or aggressive behavior. If their dog bites someone on their property, the dog owner may be liable for injuries resulting from the incident.

Although premises liability requires homeowners to take reasonable care, the standard for reasonable care varies according to a person’s status.

The four types of legal status under premises liability law include the following:

  • Invitee

An invitee is an individual invited to the property by the owner, such as friends, relatives, and customers at retail shops.

It can be an express invitation, implied from known use, or inferred by conduct. By law, invitees have the highest duty of care, and premises owners must ensure reasonable steps to ensure that the property is reasonably safe for them. An injured person’s role in causing the dog bite can affect liability.

  • Licensee

A licensee is any individual allowed by the property owner onto the property without any material benefit to the owner.

A licensee could include salespeople and the responsibility of a property owner toward licensee limits to informing them of any potentially dangerous animals on the premises.

For example, warning signs such as “Beware of Dangerous Dog” may be sufficient to inform the licensee of a dangerous animal on the dog owner’s property.

  • Trespassers

Trespassers are not legally allowed on the premises, and dog owners under California premises liability laws do not owe these types of visitors any duty of care unless the trespasser is a minor.

Are Dog Owners Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury on Private Property in California?

In California, dog owners may be held liable for any injuries or damages to others caused by their dogs, regardless of whether they are negligent.

However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, including:

  • Trespassers over the age of 18
  • The injured victim instigated the attack by provoking the dog
  • The dog is a law enforcement animal.

The strict liability California dog bite law under Civil Code Section 3342 means that you will be responsible for paying for the victim’s medical bills and property damage if your dog bit them on your property or that of a neighbor. It matters not if the dog was on or off leash.

Stray Dog Attacks Someone on Your Property: Who Is Responsible for Injuries?

Using traditional premises liability concepts, a property owner may be responsible for any injuries caused to another person on their premises resulting from a stray dog attack.

Suppose the victim has sufficient evidence that a reasonable premises owner would’ve taken the necessary steps to prevent the stray dog attack. In that case, they could prove liable for the injury caused.

Elements of Negligence under Premises Liability

First, an invited guest or uninvited guest or when some other person enters the property and is bitten must provide evidence they were bitten by a dog, with resulting injuries.

Dog bite claims under premises liability are typically based on negligence, and to have a successful claim, the victim must prove the following elements of negligence:

  1. The defendant owned, controlled, or leased the property
  2. The defendant did not take reasonable steps to ensure the property was safe
  3. The plaintiff suffered injuries and damages
  4. The defendant’s negligence resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law Personal Injury Law Firm

Are you in need of legal help after a dog attack in a private or public place? Do you want to file a lawsuit in court or try and negotiate an insurance settlement? We may be able to protect your rights and prove your case. If you suffered dog bite injuries on public or private property, you might be able to recover compensation for the damage caused. Contact us at (833) LETS-SUE or visit us for a free consultation and discuss your legal options with our California dog bite attorney.

Top Notch American Injury Lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.

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