Are pet owners liable for injuries caused by their dogs?

Dogs bring so much enjoyment into the lives of their owners. As a result, dog owners must behave reasonably and responsibly, for the health of their pets and for the safety of others.

When it comes to dog bites, owners are usually liable for subsequent injuries. According to California Legislative Information, California is a strict liability state, which means it is usually possible to secure compensation after an injury results from a dog bite.

Conditions for dog owner liability

Negligence is not necessarily a factor when it comes to strict liability statutes. The dog owner does not need to know their pet has a prior history of aggression. They also cannot claim they took the proper actions to restrain the animal. As the owner of the dog, they are responsible for its actions.

Dog owner liability is a factor when a bite takes place in public, such as at a park or on the street. Bites occurring on private property are also subject to liability laws, provided the victim had permission to be on the property. This includes visits to a friend or family member’s home, or having a legitimate reason for being on the property, i.e., maintenance workers, delivery people, and mail carriers.

Exceptions to the strict liability rule

A person cannot harass or antagonize the animal and still pursue compensation. Dogs that cause injuries while carrying out an office duty, such as protecting law enforcement or conducting a search of an area, are not included in strict liability laws.

The conduct of the victim also plays a role. People who are engaging in illegal activities, such as trespassing or committing a crime, cannot pursue compensation for subsequent injuries.

If a dog bites you, the first step is to receive medical care. Have the bite assessed by a doctor as soon as possible if emergency care is not required. Provide as much information as you have on the animal to take the proper safety measures, such as rabies treatment.