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In addition to those points set forth in our prior post, the following points and information can also apply to what are commonly referred to as “dog bite” cases.

  1. Some animals are considered “inherently dangerous”.

In certain situations, because of a tendency or “propensity” of a specific animal to cause injuries to others or otherwise engage in dangerous behavior, the owner’s decision to continue possession of that animal can open them up to what is known as “strict liability”.

Certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls, are routinely considered to have “dangerous propensities”, as are dogs with a past history of violence towards other people or animals.

  1. Don’t necessarily have to involve a bite.

Although the type of case involving injuries from dogs are often referred to as “dog bite” cases, it is possible to receive help with your medical bills and injuries without receiving any actual bite from a dog.

Dogs can injure people by jumping on them (and causing scratches only), knocking someone to the ground (without biting), or even startling someone’s horse such that they are dismounted from the ride.

  1. Aren’t necessarily limited to claims against the dog’s owners.

In addition to those who own or are otherwise responsible for possession of a dog, property owners who allow dogs to remain on their property with permission and consent can also be held liable for dog bites.

This includes landlords.  A property owner has a duty to maintain premises so as not to cause risk of injury to the public, including a duty to inspect the premises to discover against dangers and to remedy or provide warning against any such dangers.  Dangers can include, amongst other things, dangers presented by dogs being kept of the property.

“The landlord’s duty derives from his control and ability to prevent dangerous conditions on his property. …Thus, the injuries the dogs cause must be ones which would not have occurred if the landlord had taken actions which were within his power.  In the cases of dangerous dogs, that potential power is found in whatever rights the landlord may have to insist the tenant remove the dogs from the leased premises or to insure the property is so secure the dogs cannot escape to harm persons on or off the property. Donchin v. Guerrero, 34 Cal. App. 4th 1832, 1839.  Liability for injuries caused by a vicious domestic animal that occurs off the premises is determined by the landlord’s control over the property from which the animal originated the attack, not the landlord’s control over the property where the attack occurred.  Donchin v. Guerrero, 34 Cal. App. 4th 1832, 1846-47.

For instance, if a “dog escapes the landlord’s property because of defects in that property, the landlord is liable for the off site injuries.  Donchin v. Guerrero, 34 Cal. App. 4th 1832, 1846.

The landlord of a liquor store was held liable when the tenant’s guard dog injured a tenant’s invitee.  If the landlord had conducted a reasonable inspection of his property, he would have learned of the dog’s dangerous propensities.  Portillo v. Aiassa, 27 Cal. App. 4th 1128, 1136.

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