Landlord Liability for Dog Bites in California


California is one of few states that has what is known as a “strict liability statute” when it comes to dog bite law. This means that, with only a few exceptions, a dog owner whose pet attacks and injures someone will almost always be financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses caused as a result of the dog attack. Dog owners' homeowners' insurance policies often include coverage for dog bites and dog attacks.

California Civil Code 3342 states that a dog owner is liable for the damages and losses sustained by a victim who is bitten by a dog – whether the attack occurs in a public or private location – regardless of the dog's prior record of attacking and the dog owner's knowledge of such viciousness.  

angry dog with bared teeth

Landlord Liability for Dog Bites Inflicted by Tenant's Dog

It is important to understand that not all dog owners may have homeowners' insurance policies. In fact, a number of dog owners are renters. What this means is that many dog owners in California may not have the insurance policy to cover liability for injuries caused by their dogs.

If you have been injured by a tenant's dog, you may be able to hold the landlord liable for damages caused by their tenant's dog. However, there are nuances in the law as it relates to liability. While a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by their dog, a landlord's position is different. The landlord is not automatically liable if a tenant's dog bites a victim. The landlord's liability is governed by the following two factors:

  1. He or she must have known about the dog's vicious nature.
  2. The landlord should have the ability to prevent foreseeable harm. This means that the landlord should have been able to exercise some type of control in order to be able to prevent the attack. For example, if a landlord had the right to require a tenant to remove the dog from the property, that is an example of the landlord having the ability to control the situation.

Landlord Liability for Failure to Warn About a Vicious Dog

California courts have upheld that a landlord in the state does not have a duty to warn tenants about the presence of a dangerous or vicious dog on his or her property. However, the landlord does have a duty to remove a dangerous dog from the property if they have the authority and ability to do so.

Liability of Store for Allowing Dog on the Premises

A store or any other type of business such as a bar or restaurant can be held liable for a dog bite or a trip and fall caused by a dog if the store permits the dog to be present. California courts have held that storeowners have a responsible to keep their aisles free of tripping or other hazards, which includes dogs.

Employer Liability When Employee Bitten by Dog

If an employee is injured on the job, his or he employer is required to provide workers' compensation benefits, which typically include medical expenses and portion of lost wages. So, if a dog bites a mail carrier, utility worker or delivery person during the course of their job, they can file a workers' comp seeking compensation. This is also true for employees such as housekeepers. Often times, workers' compensation benefits are woefully inadequate when it comes to compensating victims for serious injuries that cause scarring and disfigurement. An experienced LA dog bite lawyer could potentially help injured employees explore their options.

What To Do If Bitten By a Dog in California

Here are some important steps to take if you have been injured in a dog attack in California:

Report the dog attack. You should report the incident to the appropriate authorities. Depending on where you are, that could be your city's animal control department, which is part of the police department or county animal control authorities.

Get prompt medical attention. If you are bleeding and have suffered apparent injuries, go to the emergency department right away. Make sure you get prompt medical treatment for your injuries and follow the doctor's orders for ongoing treatment and care.

Collect as much information as possible. Some of the most important information you can get after a dog attack includes the names and address of witnesses, the dog owner's name and address, where and when the attack occurred and the name and contact information for the person in possession of the dog.

Contact an experienced California dog bite lawyer. It is important that you seek the counsel of an experienced dog bite attorney who will fight for your rights and hold the negligent parties accountable.

Getting Help After A Dog Bite Accident

The experienced California dog bite attorneys at the Vaziri Law Group help victims of dog attacks seek and obtain compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, cost of hospitalization, cosmetic surgery, psychological counseling, scarring and disfigurement, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Call us today to schedule your no-cost consultation and case evaluation.

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