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Personal Injury

Dog Bite Injury

California dog bite law under Civil Code section 3342 makes dog owners liable for bite injuries that occur in public or on private property where the victim has the lawful right to be.


California dog bite law holds dog owners strictly liable for dog bites. This means owners generally must compensate victims of dog bites even if their dog showed no prior signs of aggression.

The Civil Code Provides:

3342. (a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.

There are a few exceptions to liability, including:

  • The victim was trespassing on private property during the dog attack,

  • The dog is a law enforcement animal,

  • The victim assumed the risk of an animal attack, or

  • The victim was partially at fault for their injuries.

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