California Dog Bite Injuries

The owner of any dog is liable for the injuries and damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place of lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully on the private property of the dog’s owner when he or she is performing any duty imposed by law or postal regulations, or when he or she is on the property by the express or implied invitation of the owner.

This liability does not preclude all common law defenses. In the proper case, a dog owner may raise the defense of assumption of risk or willfully invited injury. If a person knows and and appreciates the danger involved in encountering an animal such as a hostile and barking dog, and voluntarily accepts the risk by exposing himself to the hazard, the injured person may not recover under the statute.

The defense of assumption of the risk extends only to the danger that the injured person has knowingly assumed. The dog owner would generally not be relieved of liability of the victim’s injuries if he purposefully or negligently concealed a particular hazard, since this would expose the injured person to an unknown risk.

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