A common misconception is that an owner must know that his or her dog is dangerous in order to be liable if the dog bites another person. In California, this is not true...

A Pacifica, California woman died this summer after being mauled by her family’s pet pit bull. The woman suffered major trauma in the attack and could not be resuscitated, despite the best efforts of first responders on the scene. The dog, a two-year old unneutered male, was killed by police after it escaped the backyard in which it had been secured following the attack.

This tragic event marked the first dog-related death in Pacifica in over 25 years, although at least three Bay Area residents have been killed by dogs in the last decade. While fatalities are thankfully rare, many California residents suffer personal injury from dog bites and other animal attacks every year.

California Law Provides Remedies for Dog Bite Victims

Californians injured by a dog bite may be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. California is one of many states that hold a dog owner “strictly liable” for the animal’s behavior, meaning that it is not necessary for an injured person to show that the dog bite was caused by the owner’s negligent behavior.

A common misconception is that an owner must know that his or her dog is dangerous in order to be liable if the dog bites another person. In California, this is not true – an owner can be held liable on the first bite, even if the dog had not previously shown any aggressive tendencies.

Dog bite victims are usually barred from recovering from their injuries if they were not legally authorized to be in the location where the attack occurred. As an example, while victims usually can recover if they are attacked while they are guests in someone’s home, they usually cannot if they have broken in to the home. Veterinarians and humane societies are also usually barred from recovering.

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