In California, a “Beware of Dog” sign does not give a dog owner a free pass, but it may slightly reduce the owner’s liability for injuries their dog inflicts in some cases. It all depends on the type of injury the dog caused and the circumstances of the attack.

Here is a summary of California dog attack law, how a “Beware of Dog” sign can affect the owner’s liability, and the role an experienced personal injury lawyer from Setareh Law can play in securing compensation for a dog attack victim.

Dog Owner Liability in California

Under California law, you can generally hold a dog owner liable for the damages their dog causes in an attack on a human. However, the rules that apply to proving that liability and receiving compensation depend on the type of injury the dog inflicts.

Strict Liability for Bites Under California Civil Code §3342

Under California Civil Code §3342, a dog owner will be held strictly liable for any damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property. This means that if a dog bites you, its owner can usually be held legally responsible for your medical bills, lost income, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other compensatory damages, regardless of whether they knew the dog could be dangerous or whether they took reasonable steps to prevent the bite.

Effect of “Beware of Dog” Sign on Owner’s Liability

In dog bite cases, a “Beware of Dog” sign doesn’t typically absolve the owner of responsibility. The strict liability for bites holds the owner responsible regardless of any warning signs.

When it comes to injuries besides bites, however, the sign could play a role in deciding whether the owner was negligent and therefore liable. A “Beware of Dog” sign could be considered a reasonable step to warn potential victims of danger. The effectiveness of such a sign in measuring whether the owner did enough not to be found negligent, however, relies on case-specific factors like how visible the sign was, the number of signs the owner posted, and other measures the owner took to protect you from the dog.

California Comparative Fault Rules Apply in Dog Attack Cases

Separate from its impact on whether the owner is liable, a “Beware of Dog” sign could play a role in determining whether the victim also deserves some blame for the attack.

California law recognizes a legal rule known as comparative fault, which says that the compensation you receive for an accidental injury should be reduced by your share of the blame for what happened. For example, if a court finds you 40% at fault for the dog attack, you may only be able to recover 60% of your total damages.

For instance, if you ignored multiple “Beware of Dog” signs and provoked a dog, a case could be made that you share some responsibility for the attack, but simply being in a place where there’s a “Beware of Dog” sign has been posted does not automatically saddle you with fault for what happened.

Contact a Skilled California Dog Bite Injury Lawyer at Setareh Law Today

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a dog attack in California, the law may entitle you to receive significant compensation from the dog’s owner, even if the owner posted a “Beware of Dog” sign at the location where the dog attacked you. 

Setareh Law can help. We’re a team of experienced California personal injury lawyers who know how to hold dog owners accountable for injuries their pets inflict. Contact us today or call us at (310) 659-1826 for a free consultation. We also speak Spanish.