Dog Laws In California

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While California law generally imposes liability for bites on a dog owner without regard to the dog owner’s negligence, there are exceptions. A dog owner may not be liable if the injured person was trespassing when bitten or assumed the risk of being bitten. California also limits recovery of damages from injuries caused by a dog engaged in military or law enforcement activities.

In California, a landlord who has knowledge that a tenant’s dog that has previously bitten a person and fails to remove that dog from a premises can be liable for injuries under a theory of negligence. A landlord may also be charged with knowledge that a dog is dangerous even though it has not previously bitten a person, but has been aggressive towards other dogs, cats, or other animals.

A landlord may also be liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog if language in a lease intended to protect people from dog injuries is not enforced.

Damages that can be recovered depend upon the nature and extent of injury, medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, periods of total and/or partial disability, physical pain and mental suffering, disfiguring scarring, permanency of injury, and loss of consortium.


In California, the statute of limitations is two (2) years from the date of injury. This means you must file a lawsuit against the owner/keeper of the dog within that time, or you will be forever time barred from pursuing a case.


Cal. Civ. Code, § 3342

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The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed through the use of this website.  Laws relating to dog injuries can, and do, change.  To learn your legal rights, contact The Snow Law Firm, or contact a licensed and experienced attorney in your state.


In most states, when a minor is bitten or injured by a dog, the statute of limitation period does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18.  Thus, for example, if an 11-year-old child is bitten or injured by a dog in a state that has a 3 year statute of limitation period within which to file a lawsuit, they will have three years from the date they turn 18 years of age, and would thus have to file a lawsuit before they turn 21 years of age.  In most instances, however, it is recommended that a parent or guardian bring a claim for a dog bite or injury claim on behalf of a minor child before waiting for the injured child to turn 18.


Some states limit the type of damages that a person bitten or injured by a dog can recover.  In most states, however, a person who is bitten or injured by a dog can recover damages that include medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, physical pain and mental suffering, scarring, permanency of injury, periods of total and/or partial disability and loss of spousal consortium.