What Are Some Legal Defenses that a Dog Owner Could Use?

Lawyers For Dog Bites
Dog Bite Claim

The liability for the actions of the dog does not always fall on the dog owner’s shoulders.  This is the case even when the dog bites someone. For instance, there are some cases when the dog bite happens with justifiable cause. However, it has to be noted that every state has its own specific laws with regards to dog bite.

Exceptions to Strict Liability

California is also a “strict liability” state, meaning the dog owner cannot escape responsibility for the dog bite incident by claiming that they did not have any idea it would act aggressively. He or she is responsible for damages that result from the incident, even if the animal has not bitten anyone previously. So, that dog bite claim may not stand a chance in California, as the state judicial system makes owners strictly liable for their dog’s action. However, there are some exceptions to the rule as discussed hereunder.

The Victim Was Careless or Aware of the Danger

What if one knew the dog may bite and chose to simply ignore or accept the risk? In this case, the dog owner might not actually be at fault. Then again, this will also depend on the laws of the particular state. What if the dog owner has “beware of a dog” signs post on the property or makes sure the eventual victim was fully aware of the risk? Again, the dog owner might just escape fault.

Provoking a Dog

Whether it was unintentional or intentional, provoking a dog means that the canine could just be expected to keep itself from harm. In this situation also, the owner of the dog may not be guilty. Imagine if the animal was being teased, hit or tormented by the one who suffered the bite. In some instances, the dog bites someone who did not provoke it intentionally. For instance, that victim may have been stepping on the dog’s paw, invading its space, or food. Even then the owner may be free of fault. However, this defense could end up being successful or unsuccessful.


If a person sustains a dog bite injury when he or she was trespassing or was in the process of doing something illegal, the owner of the dog may not be to blame. So this stays a gray area of law in some regards. Juries have not had any sympathy for the one trespassing to commit something illegal and sustained a dog bite while at it. However, if he or she was an adult or kid entering the premises without any intended harm, then it may have an altogether different outcome.