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OUCH! What You’ll Need to Prove in a Dog Bite Claim

If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, missed income, and other costs. At Harsh Law, our Southern California dog bite lawyers are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.


California is what is known as a “strict liability” state. That means that an injured person does not need to prove that the dog’s owner acted negligently to recover damages for harm suffered – this means that victims do not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent or knew of a dog’s violent history.


Even though California is a strict liability state, these claims are not always a sure thing – especially if the at-fault party is insured and has access to an excellent legal team. There are several aspects of evidence that must be present in every dog bite claim, although it might appear to be more straightforward.


Requirement 1: You Were Legally Allowed To Be At The Location

To have a valid dog bite claim, you must have legally been on the property where you were bitten. If you were in a public space, such as a park, you likely have a valid claim. If you were legally on private property, such as at a friend’s house, you also likely have a valid claim. However, if you were illegally on a property, you are considered a trespasser and you may not have a valid dog bite claim.


Requirement 2: You Were Bitten By The Dog

The California Civil Codes 3342 and 3342.5 only cover dog bites and does not include other injuries a dog may have caused, such as scratching, impact, or tripping. Non-bite injuries may still be compensated, but you will have to prove the dog owner was negligent and did not properly leash or otherwise control their dog.


Having proof of the dog bite includes the following:


  • Photographic evidence of the dog bite at or near the time of the attack
  • Medical records for treatment of the dog bite
  • Police reports of the event, if available
  • Statements of any third-party witnesses


Section 3342 (a) of the CVC code states the following: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or 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 upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.”


  • CVC 3342 –
  • CVC 3342.5 –


Requirement 3: The Attack Was Not Provoked

According to California Civil Code, a “dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act” is not liable when it bites the provoking person. If the victim harassed or otherwise provoked the dog to the point of attack, the claim will not hold up in court. In this requirement, it is important to show that the victim was acting reasonably and did nothing specific to provoke the dog into the violent act of biting.


Requirement 4: The Dog Was Not Working For Law Enforcement

Dogs working in an official capacity, such as police dogs, have a duty to search individuals, vehicles, and other property. They are considered a government entity and are also protected by sovereign immunity which means they are protected from liability when they are performing official duties.


Requirement 5: Dog Ownership

It is necessary to prove the ownership of the dog and that the dog was not merely a stray or unknown to the dog owner. Trying to deny ownership is a tactic that can be proven false by the presentation of records, veterinary receipts, social media posts, or other methods of registration.


Call Our Southern California Dog Bite Lawyers

Harsh Law has successfully litigated many dog bite and attack cases. For expert assistance on your side, contact us immediately to schedule a free consultation. If you have been injured, call 909-793-6261 to connect with the experts at Harsh Law now for a free case evaluation. A better settlement is only a phone call away.