Strict Liability for Dog Owners in California
If you have been injured by a dog in an attack, California holds owners responsible for the actions of their dogs. California uses a form of strict liability when it comes to dog bites and injuries caused by dogs. Strict liability is a legal term of art. It means that no matter what the circumstances, the owner of the dog will be held liable. It does not matter whether or not a person was negligent in keeping their dog penned up or leashed, or whether or not the dog was trained or not. If the dog bites or injures someone, the dog owner will be held legally responsible for any damages that the victim has suffered.
California law does carve out an exception or two for when strict liability will not be applied, but those circumstances are very narrow, such as when the victim of a dog bite is trespassing on the dog owner’s property. In situations like these, a good personal injury attorney can help.
No Need for Knowledge of a Dangerous Animal
Many people may not be familiar with the concept of strict liability but may know of the traditional common law rule that is colloquially referred to as the ‘One Bite Rule.’ This rule acted as both a defense and a liability for dog owners in dog bite cases.
How it traditionally worked is that the dog’s owner would be shielded from liability in the case of the first injury caused by the dog. However, after the first injury, the dog’s owner is now considered on notice and aware that their dog is dangerous and will be held liable for any further injuries caused by the dangerous dog.
Some people wrongly believe that every dog gets ‘one free bite;’ that is, a dog can bite one person and there owner will not be responsible for the first bite. While this is the case in many states who still use the ‘One Bite Rule,’ this is not the case in California.
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