Obtaining Maximum Recovery for Dog Bites
By Chris Hendricks, Fox Law Trial Attorney
California Civil Code section 3342 enforces “strict liability” on the owner of a dog for a dog bite. This means that the owner of a dog that bites someone in California is liable even if the dog has never bitten anyone or shown a tendency to bite people. Under California Civil Code section 3342, the victim of a dog bite need only show: (1) the dog was owned by the defendant; (2) the victim was bitten by defendant’s dog; (3) the bite took place on public property or while the victim was lawfully on private property. Keep in mind that private property may be, and often is, the property of the owner of the dog. (Civ. Code § 3342.)
Even though strict liability through Civil Code section 3342 may be enforced against the owner of a dog, there is no analogous statute holding the caretaker or keeper of a dog strictly liability for a dog bite. On the contrary, California case law states that a “keeper, in contrast to an owner, is not an insurer of the good behavior of a dog but must have scienter or knowledge of the vicious propensities of the animal before liability for injuries inflicted by such animal shall attach to him.” (Buffington v. Nicholson (1947) 78 Cal.App.2d 37.)
When the owner of the dog does not have sufficient assets or insurance to compensate the victim of a dog bite for their injuries, it takes an experienced law firm to ensure that a victim is fully compensated for their injuries. The team at Fox Law, APC has resolved numerous dog bite cases and has been successful in establishing liability against both the owner and the caretaker of dogs leading to larger recoveries for our clients. If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite, the attorneys at Fox Law, APC can help. They are experts in the constantly evolving statutes and law concerning dog bite liability in California. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.
 Narrow exceptions exist for dogs that are in use for the military and police or where the dog was defending itself from annoying or harassing conduct.