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Santa Monica Dog Bite Laws: What You Need to Know

BY: Randolph and Associates | July 10, 2024 | Dog Bite

Dog bites can result in severe physical and emotional trauma, leaving victims with hefty medical bills and a long road to recovery. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Santa Monica, it’s crucial to understand your rights and the legal framework surrounding dog bite incidents. At Randolph and Associates, our experienced dog bite lawyers are here to help you navigate the complexities of these cases and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Understanding Dog Bite Laws in Santa Monica

California has specific laws governing dog bites designed to protect victims and hold dog owners accountable. The primary statute is California Civil Code section 3342, which outlines the state’s strict liability rule. Under this law, a dog owner is liable for damages if their dog bites someone, regardless of the dog’s prior behavior or the owner’s knowledge of any previous aggression.

Key Points of California’s Dog Bite Law

  • Strict Liability: Unlike some states that require proof of the dog’s dangerousness or the owner’s negligence, California imposes strict liability on dog owners. This means that the owner is automatically responsible for the injury caused by their dog, even if it’s the dog’s first offense.
  • Location of the Incident: The law applies if the bite occurs in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property. This means that even if you are a guest on the dog owner’s property and the dog bites you, the owner is still liable.
  • Types of Injuries Covered: The law specifically addresses dog bites. However, if a dog causes injury through other means (e.g., knocking someone over), different legal principles may apply.

Exceptions to the Rule

While the strict liability rule is comprehensive, there are certain exceptions where a dog owner may not be held liable:

  • Trespassing: If the victim was trespassing on private property, the owner might not be liable for the injuries.
  • Provocation: If the victim provoked or teased the dog, leading to the bite, the owner’s liability could be reduced or eliminated.
  • Military and Police Dogs: Dogs used by the military or police in the line of duty are generally exempt from the strict liability rule, provided the bite occurred during official duties.

Filing a Dog Bite Claim

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, taking the following steps can help strengthen your claim:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority. Immediate medical attention ensures proper treatment and documents your injuries, which is crucial for your case.
  • Report the Incident: File a report with local animal control or the police. This creates an official record of the incident.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect evidence from the scene, such as photographs of your injuries, the location, and any witnesses’ contact information.
  • Document Expenses: Keep records of all medical bills, lost wages, and any other expenses related to the bite.
  • Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer: An experienced dog bite lawyer can guide you through the legal process, help gather necessary evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

Compensation for Dog Bite Victims

Victims of dog bites in Santa Monica may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers all medical treatment related to the bite, such as emergency room visits, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy.
  • Lost Wages: If the injury prevents you from working, you may be compensated for lost income and diminished earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress caused by the bite.
  • Property Damage: If personal property, such as clothing or accessories, was damaged during the incident, you might be reimbursed for these losses.

Why You Need a Dog Bite Lawyer

Navigating the legal system can be daunting, especially when dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event like a dog bite. A skilled dog bite lawyer in Santa Monica can provide invaluable assistance by:

  • Evaluating Your Case: Assessing the strength of your case and determining the potential value of your claim.
  • Handling Legal Procedures: Managing all legal paperwork, deadlines, and court procedures.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often aim to minimize payouts. A lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation.
  • Representing You in Court: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer will be prepared to take your case to trial.


Dog bite incidents can be traumatic and costly, but understanding your legal rights and the protections available under California law can help you seek justice and compensation. At Randolph and Associates, our dedicated team of dog-bite lawyers in Santa Monica is committed to helping victims navigate the legal system and secure the compensation they need to recover and move forward.

If a dog has bitten you or a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation. Call us at 310-395-7900 to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer who can help you understand your options and take the necessary steps to protect your rights.

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