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  • Felipe Garcia, Esq.

Dog Bite Injury? Understanding Liability & Your Rights in California

Dog bite attacks can be terrifying, resulting in a wide range of physical and emotional injuries, including severe lacerations, infections, permanent scarring, disfigurement, and psychological trauma that can linger long after the physical wounds heal. Unfortunately, California has seen a significant increase in dog bite-related cases. Hospitalizations for dog bites have roughly doubled since 2006. While deaths from dog bites are uncommon, they've also increased by about 70% in the state between 2018 and 2022, with a total of 28 fatalities. However, this trend isn't unique to California. Nationwide, dog bites were responsible for 96 deaths in 2022, and data from the CDC shows the national death rate has more than doubled since 2005.


When these terrible animal attacks occur, the big question is, who is responsible?


Under California law, the owner of any dog is strictly liable for the injuries caused by their animal. This means that a dog bite victim only has to prove that the damages they suffered were due to a dog bite and the bite occurred on public property or that they were lawfully on private property. It does not matter that the dog's owner did not know their dog was aggressive or that they would have bitten someone. It does not matter whether the dog has any history of vicious behavior. If the dog bites someone, the owner is liable.

Under certain circumstances, the owner of the property where a dog attack occurred can also be held liable. This is especially true if you were legally on their property, or the dog got loose from their yard.

However, California law does not apply strict liability in animal attacks that do not involve a “bite.” For example, if a dog runs past an individual, causing that person to fall and become injured, the victim may pursue a claim under negligence. Under a general theory of negligence an owner or other person in control of an animal can be liable for the injuries caused by their animal.

If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Actions to Take After a Dog Bite

·       Identify the dog owner/address

·       Exchange contact information with the dog owner

·       Report the dog bite to the local animal control

·       Document the incident by taking photos of the dog and your injuries

Have A Question

If you or someone you know has been bitten or attacked by a dog, please contact Gomerman | Bourn & Associates for a free consultation at (415) 545-8608 or email us at


Read More

·       How to Report A Dog Bite -

·       What to Do After A Dog Bite -

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