What if Someone’s Dog Bites Me on Their Property in California? How Civil Code 3342 Defines Who is Liable After an Attack

December 8, 2023

What if Someone’s Dog Bites Me on Their Property in California? How Civil Code 3342 Defines Who is Liable After an Attack

Dog bites - man has injury from bite

Recent studies show over 8,000 dogs getting adopted in Los Angeles. While canines can make great companions, dog bites can also happen when least expected. 

The US Post Office reported California led the way with the most dog bites on postal workers in 2021. There were 787 attacks, and that’s just on the employees delivering mail!

While dog bites often happen on sidewalks when approaching stranger’s dogs, they can also happen on another person’s property, maybe even a friend’s place of residence.

Imagine you live in an apartment complex where someone lets their dog run loose in the courtyard on a regular basis. One day after coming home from work, the dog rushes up and attacks you, biting your arm and leaving a deep puncture wound. 

What should you do? What happens? Who is at fault?

California is a strict liability state, so any defendants in dog bite cases are automatically liable for damages caused. 

According to California Civil Code 3342, the dog owner is “liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog”.

A rare exception to this is if the dog bite victim was trespassing, or they were provoking the dog to attack. In this case, the owner may be found not liable.

There are different levels of dog bites, ranked on a scale of one to six with one being the lowest and six being the highest. Level one and two comprise about 99 percent of dog bites. Level six is an extreme case where the victim ends up dead from an attack. 

dog bites - a dog watches an injured man

Another interesting law pertains to a dog’s classification. According to California law, a dog may be classified as potentially dangerous or vicious.

Potentially dangerous – The dog has attacked a person twice within a three-year period, or it’s bitten someone only once, but still caused injuries

Vicious – The dog has at some point severely injured or killed someone, or attacked another animal or person more than twice during the previous three years.

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, there are steps you can take to try protecting yourself as the incident unfolds – 

  • Get to safety and seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Even if it means just getting to your car, you generally should be safer there. 
  • Take photographs and videos of any injury.
  • Make a personal statement, like a document or journal, recounting the incident.
  • Obtain the information from any witnesses to the incident.
  • Do your best to identify the dog’s owner. Get their name, contact information, and address.  Of course, always go back to rule one if your safety is still a concern. Don’t risk further injury.

If you were bitten by a dog on someone else’s property, contact the LA dog bite attorneys at C&B Law Group.  Our experienced dog bite lawyers understand the physical, mental, medical, and financial impact that a dog bite can have on your life. 

California’s statute of limitations for injuries such as dog bites is two years since it is a personal injury. However, there are other cases where it could qualify as workers’ compensation. Your attorney can best help you determine how to proceed.

At C&B Law Group, our team of Los Angeles lawyers is prepared to help you through the process following dog bites and their resulting injuries. 

All dog bites are different, and the compensation you may be able to retrieve can vary as well. Damages you may be able to recover include :

  • Past or present medical expenses stemming from the injury
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental pain and suffering 
  • Lost wages, including future wages lost 

We’ve helped victims of dog bites in Los Angeles recover damages as high as $300,00 dollars.

Don’t hesitate to contact our LA dog bite attorneys today for a free consultation

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