california dog bite laws

According to a study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur nationwide each year. Of these incidents, California ranks highest in the nation for fatal attacks.

Unfortunately, some of the worst injuries we’ve seen here at Negretti & Associates have been the result of vicious attacks by dogs. The most common injuries are permanent nerve damage and scarring as bites often puncture deep into skin and muscle.

Damage claims are common after a dog bite incidents. In fact, insurance carriers pay over $1 billion every year in animal bite claims annually, and over a third of all funds paid out through homeowners’ liability claims arise from dog bite claims.

Regardless, it is nearly impossible for the average person to recover the proper compensation for these serious long-term effects of dog bites on his or her own.

California Dog Owners Are Liable for Dog Bites

California dog bite laws are clear on assigning liability for dog bites. Section 3342 of California Civil Code creates strict liability for dog owners when their dogs bite someone in public or on private property. This means that the dog owner cannot avoid liability for injuries his or her dog has caused to someone by simply claiming that they took reasonable care to restrain the dog.

Contrary to popular belief, a dog’s history of viciousness has no bearing on the owner’s liability. Owners are liable even for first-time attacks.

However, a dog bite victim cannot have provoked the dog or have been trespassing on dog-owner’s property during the attack. If this occurs, the dog owner may no longer be liable. Yet, dog owners are still required to display ample warnings around their property to warn potential trespassers of an aggressive canine. If they fail to warn, they could still be held liable for any harm caused to an intruder who is subsequently attacked.

No Bite Is Too Small

Bites of all sizes can be grounds to pursue a dog bite accident claim. There is no need for you to suffer physically, mentally, or financially after your dog bite.

Attacked While Running in Your Neighborhood

Dog attacks on runners are all too common in California. The permissive weather often lures runners into neighborhood streets year-round. If you are bitten by a dog while out running, the dog’s owner likely has a duty to cover the costs of your injuries in addition to other costs.

Dog Walker’s Liability

There have been many instances where a dog walker or handler will simply lose control of a dog while out in public, leading to someone being bitten. Unless that dog walker or handler does something provoke the dog to bite someone, they are not liable. Rather, the owner of the attacking dog is liable for any injuries caused to a person, even if the dog was under another’s control.

A Family or Friend’s Dog

Many dog bites come from the dogs of our friends and family members. This puts victims in an uncomfortable situation. On one hand, you have suffered an injury and deserve compensation. On the other, you don’t want to compromise your relationship with loved ones.

You shouldn’t worry! Dog bite victims need only file a claim against their insurance company, namely homeowners or renters insurance. If they have coverage, your rightful recovery will come from directly their insurance company and not from their pockets.

You may also be concerned that the pet will be put down if you report the incident or pursue your claim. If this was an isolated occurrence, be rest assured that the dog will probably not be put down.

How A Dog Bite Attorney Can Help You

The outcome of your dog bite can hinge on whether or not you have an experienced dig bite lawyer on your side.

The experienced dog bite attorneys at Negretti & Associates know California dog bite laws and are ready to fight for you. We’ll vigilantly defend your rights and pursue any rightful claims for damages, medical expenses, and compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured.

We also understand the importance of securing compensation for future medical treatment, which is necessary for scar revisions common to dog bite cases. We will also help you collect compensation for time you have to take off from work to deal with your injuries.

dog bite laws arizona california colorado

Dogs are considered to be part of the family, offering a wide range of benefits — companionship, unconditional love, lower blood pressure, exercise, and opportunities for children to learn responsibility. Dogs are especially loved in Arizona, which has the highest percentage of dog owners in the United States. Approximately 1.7 million (43.3 percent) Arizona households include man’s best friend!

However, what happens if your beloved family dog bites another individual?

Common Law and Colorado’s “One Bite Rule”

Under the common law, a person that was injured by a dog could recover if they proved that the owner knew, or should have known, that the animal had a predisposition to cause harm. This was known as the “one bite rule.”

Under the Colorado “one bite rule,” an owner generally would not be held liable if his or her dog bit someone for the first time, because the owner would never have known that the dog had a predisposition to cause harm. However, once the dog had bitten someone (or growled and snapped), the owner would know that the dog had the ability to cause harm, and could be held liable if the dog bit a person in the future.

Colorado is included in a list of states that apply the “one bite rule.”

Arizona and California Dog Bite Law

Arizona and California, however, impose strict liability on the owner of a dog in dog bite cases. This means that in Arizona and California, dogs do not get “one free bite.” Owners will be held strictly liable for the injuries caused by their dogs without regard to an owner’s knowledge of the dog’s predisposition to cause harm.

Arizona Revised Statute 11-1025 and California Civil Code section 3342 govern dog bite cases. Arizona and California law explain that a dog’s owner is liable if his or her dog bites a person who is in a public place or lawfully in a private place when the bite occurs, “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of its viciousness.”

Two common defenses that may be raised in an Arizona or California dog bite case include trespassing and provocation. Since both laws require the injured person to “lawfully” be in a public or private place when the injury occurs, a person who is trespassing would be on the premises unlawfully. Therefore, the trespasser would be unable to recover damages. Additionally, the statute states that an injured person cannot recover if the person “provoked” the dog. Although provocation was initially directed at military or police dogs, it is a common defense for household pets as well.


Although the dog owner is liable for any injuries caused by their dog, often their insurance company will ultimately pay for the damages. Additionally, rental, business and landlord insurance may also cover dog bite injuries. Some damages that may be recovered from a dog bite case include: lost wages, medical bills, future medical bills, therapy, pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.

Dogs add such a wonderful facet to life. Please take the time to review your state’s dog bite laws to keep your family, which includes your dog, and others safe.

Negretti & Associates Can Help

If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to get medical treatment right away. After that, you’ll need to begin collecting evidence as quickly as possible. Contact our team of dog bite lawyers so that we can evaluate your situation and help you determine if your case is worth pursuing.