California Dog Bite Laws – Statute of Limitations

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Dogs are widely regarded as man’s best friend and are very popular pets. Unfortunately, while most people are fortunate enough to only have positive interactions with the dogs they encounter daily, some are not so lucky and unexpectedly suffer bites and other painful injuries. If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a dog attack, it is essential to have legal counsel you can trust if you want to maximize your recovery from a dog attack.

A California dog bite injury attorney could help you determine your best options for legal recourse if someone else’s dog recently injured you. Dogs can not only cause painful bites, but they can also knock a victim to the ground and cause a host of other injuries. Even small dogs are capable of inflicting major injuries, and victims need to know the value of reliable legal counsel after these incidents.

California Dog Bite Laws

Understanding the State’s Dog Bite Rule

Many states enforce one-bite rules that essentially give dog owners a single chance to avoid liability if their pets cause injuries to others. However, California has no such law and instead upholds a strict liability rule. This means a dog owner is strictly liable for any damage their pet causes to another person. There are a few conditions for this rule to apply, but the case will follow the same basic framework as any other personal injury claim.

The plaintiff in a personal injury case has the right to recover all the medical expenses resulting from the dog attack in question. These damages may include immediate medical expenses, ongoing medical costs for managing serious injuries, lost wages, and lost future income if the victim cannot return to their job after their injury. Beyond economic damage, plaintiffs also have the right to claim compensation for their pain and suffering.

Experienced legal counsel is invaluable if you intend to maximize the recovery you obtain from the defendant you caused your accident. In the event that the defendant was exceptionally negligent in the care of their dog, or if they incited the dog to attack you intentionally, they may face criminal penalties along with their civil liability for your damage. A trustworthy attorney will be an invaluable source of support and guidance when it comes to navigating your case as efficiently as possible to a positive outcome.

Claimable Damages in Your Dog Bite Case

A personal injury plaintiff can seek full compensation for any and all economic damage the dog attack caused. For example, you may have incurred expensive medical bills, further economic strain from the inability to work, and a host of long-term concerns related to the medical complications you face. If you want the best chance of recovering the full amount of economic damage legally owed to you, you need an experienced attorney to help you build your case.

A dog bite is also a psychologically traumatic experience. Some victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety around dogs, and other mental health disruptions from their experiences. These are compensable losses as well, and a good attorney will help you determine a fair amount of compensation that would reflect the severity of your condition.

The statute of limitations may wind down to a critical level faster than you expect, especially if the aftermath of a painful and traumatic dog attack has you reeling for an extended period. So, contact legal counsel you can trust as soon as possible to get the answers you need to your most pressing legal questions.


Q: Is a Dog Owner Always Liable if Their Pet Bites in California?

A: The state upholds a strict liability rule for dog owners that essentially requires them to exercise full control over their pets at all times. A dog owner faces strict liability for any damage their pet causes to another person as long as the victim did not provoke the dog into attacking and was legally present at the location of the attack.

Q: What Happens If a Dog Attack Is Fatal?

A: In the event of a fatal dog attack, the dog’s owner would likely face strict liability for the wrongful death of the victim. A wrongful death case is similar to a personal injury claim but seeks compensation for the family’s losses, not the victim’s damage. You should consult an experienced wrongful death attorney if you recently lost a loved one in a fatal dog attack.

Q: How Long Do I Have to File a Civil Action for a Dog Bite in California?

A: The state upholds a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims. This means you have two years from the date the dog attack happened to file a claim against the dog’s owner. As a general rule, it is typically best to start this process as soon as possible after your accident to ensure the best chance of winning your case.

Q: How Much Is a Dog Attack Claim Worth?

A: You can seek compensation for all the economic losses you sustained from your recent dog attack, and you also have the right to recover compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced. The total value of your case can fluctuate significantly based on several factors, so it’s best to get an estimate of your case’s potential value from an experienced attorney.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Claim?

A: There may not be any strict legal rule that you must hire an attorney for a dog bite claim, but legal counsel you can trust is invaluable in this situation and can significantly improve your chances of success with all the recovery efforts you pursue. While you might have reservations about the potential cost of your legal fees, your attorney can easily make up for this expense in the value they add to your final case award.

The Kreeger Law Firm has years of experience handling a wide range of personal injury claims on behalf of clients throughout the state, and we know how damaging and traumatic a dog attack can be. If you’re ready to take legal action against the owner of the dog that injured you, contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team.