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Seeking compensation for dog attack injuries, P.3

Previously, we began looking at the topic of seeking compensation for dog bite injuries under California’s strict liability statute. This statute, as we noted, makes dog owners liable for dog bites that occur in a public place or on the property of the dog owner.

Strict liability does not apply in cases where the bite victim was not lawfully on the dog owner’s property, such as in cases of trespass. Individuals who enter onto the property of a dog owner for the dog owner’s commercial benefit or for purposes related to the owner’s business dealings may hold the owner strictly liable for dog bites, though, as may individuals who lawfully enter onto the dog owner’s property as social guests. 

One point to make about the strict liability statute is that dog owners still have the ability to assert the defenses of assumption of risk and contributory negligence in strict liability cases. California courts recognize that kennel workers, for instance, may be found to assume the risk of being bitten or injured while handling a dog under a contractual boarding agreement. Similarly, veterinarians and their assistants may assume the risk of being bitten or injured while offering medical treatment to a dog.

In many cases, dog bites occur when families get together and the animal attacks a child or an elderly person. Ideally, families will be able to work out matters of compensation on their own to preserve the peace and keep the matter out of court. In cases where the injury is serious and there is no willingness to compensate, though, it may be necessary to pursue damages in court. Working with an experienced attorney is important to ensure that the dog bite victim is able to establish the strongest possible case for liability and that he or she is justly compensated for injuries and any disfigurement.


California Civil Code, Article 3342

Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), 463. Dog Bite Statute (Civ. Code, § 3342)—Essential Factual Elements, Accessed Nov. 15, 2016. 

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