dog bite lawsui

When Is An Owner Not Liable For Dog Bites?

A dog’s aggression is often the responsibility of its owner. While California law often holds a dog owner liable in personal injury accidents, there are exceptions. It is important for pet owners to understand their rights in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Possessing this information will enable a successful defense in these types of claims.

Our Los Angeles wrongful death law firm has compiled the guide below for dog bite defenses. While this guide can serve as a reference, it is always best to consult a wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles for specific advice.

Exceptions to Dog Bite Laws

According to Section 3342 of the California Civil Code, dog owners are responsible for bite injuries and fatalities that occur “in a public place or lawfully in a private place.” This not only accounts for dogs with a history of aggression but for unpredictable attacks. The law is reasonably strict and primarily blames the owner for any incidents.

Pet owners should train their animals and act promptly in potentially dangerous situations. This includes understanding their pets’ triggers and taking precautions to avoid them.

However, it is not always possible for owners to anticipate a dangerous situation. And in some cases, the incident is beyond their control. Personal injury law firms in Los Angeles actively defend owners who face wrongful accusations, securing the best possible outcomes.


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A personal injury attorney in Los Angeles will utilize the fence and other signage as evidence of trespassing, therefore proving the victim was acting negligently and is responsible for their own injury.

This may be more complex in cases involving delivery personnel or other contracted employers.

In addition, cases involving children may be more complex due to their limited cognisant understanding of dangers.

Personal injury attorneys (Los Angeles and surrounding areas) can help prove your innocence in wrongful allegations.

Unwarranted Provoking

Resisting a puppy’s cuteness is tough, but it’s crucial to be respectful of the animal’s boundaries. Some dogs have known triggers, especially those that may stem from an abusive background. Before interacting with any new animal individuals should:

  • Ask their owner for permission to engage
  • Ask their owner if certain engagement is permitted (i.e. touching a toy, petting its head)
  • Refrain from catching the dog off guard
  • Only engage if an owner is present

Imagine inviting a male guest to a housewarming party. You inform him in advance about the dog’s fear of men, requesting him to refrain from engaging. The dog is secure in a gated area in the backyard while the guests are inside.

The male proceeds to go outside uninvited and grab the dog’s toy to play. As a result, the dog bites the male guest.

In this scenario, the owner would likely not be liable for the injuries.

This defense will also apply to cases in which the victim caused harm to the dog such as hitting or throwing items. Attacks stemming from animal abuse cases will not be the fault of the owner.

Assumption of Risk

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A small dog is at the veterinarian clinic due to a small laceration. The veterinarian, picking up the animal to treat it, sustains a bite in the hand. In this case, the court of law will not hold the owner accountable for the injury.

Veterinarians, veterinary assistants, groomers, trainers, pet sitters, kennel operators, employees, shelter staff, volunteers, and other professionals take on the responsibility for the dog. This means they are willingly engaging, despite the risk of injury.

Wrongful Death Cases

While rare, wrongful deaths may occur from a dog bite. In these cases, it is important to consult a wrongful death lawyer (Los Angeles and surrounding areas) for legal advice. A Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can defend you from a wrongful death lawsuit, proving your lack of responsibility.

Consult a Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyers (Los Angeles and Surrounding Southern California Region)

Dog attacks are traumatic experiences for all parties involved. While it is especially unfortunate for the victim, in some cases they may be at fault. Dog owners should not be held liable in cases beyond their control.

The Law Offices of John J. Perlstein help provide justice in complex dog bite and personal injury cases. John Perlstein stands out as one of the top personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles. He vigorously advocates for his clients, striving to secure maximum compensation in accordance with California law.

To discuss filing a wrongful death or personal injury claim, please fill out our contact form. Our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys and personal injury attorneys will provide free consultations to determine next steps.

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