Dogs are known to be man’s best friend. However, they can also be dangerous when they attack humans. In order to address this issue, legislatures have enacted laws that are meant to protect victims of dog bites and dog attacks. In California, these provisions are mentioned in California Civil Code Section 3342.
Liability for private pets
According to the law, the owner of a dog is liable for the injuries that any person suffers from being bitten by the owner’s dog. The incident can occur in a public place or in a private place, including the property of the dog’s owner. The owner’s liability is regardless of the dog’s earlier viciousness or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
Police or military dogs
It is important to note that a personal injury action for a dog bite cannot be brought against any governmental agency such as the police of the military that uses a dog if that dog was provoked by annoying and harassing or of that dog bites a person while:
- The officers and the dog were in pursuit of a suspect to apprehend him or her.
- During the investigation of an actual or possible crime.
- During the execution of and warrant.
- In the act of defense of an officer or of another person.
These rules only apply when the governmental agency such as the police or the military has a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for carrying out its duties.
Action against a police/military dog
Also noteworthy is the fact that an action can be brought against a governmental agency over a dog bite if the victim was not party to or not a participant in the criminal act that was being investigated by the governmental agency with the aid of a dog.