Clarification Of Pet Owners’ Liability Under California Law

California Civil Code 4432 states that dog owners are responsible for any injuries to victims in the event of a dog attack in public.  Most people believe that a dog must have shown previous signs of viciousness or aggression in order to be charged with a crime or slapped with a civil suit, but this is certainly not the case.

According to Aaron Moore, contributor at, the owner is not only responsible in the event of a dog bite, but “any injuries caused by their dog, whether as a result of a bite or some other action.”  Dog owners must be careful if they have a large or aggressive dog, even if they are generally friendly and playful in nature.  If your dog simply knocks someone over, you can still be held responsible for the ensuing injuries.

The bottom line is that the actions of a dog are the owner’s responsibility in California.  There are no “free bites”, per se as there are in other states under their dog leash laws.  Dog owners cannot afford to wait and see how their pets behave around strangers.  If there is any chance at all that your dog could injure a human—whether it be intentional or not—you would be well served to keep it on a leash.

Bonnici Law Group—San Diego personal injury lawyer.