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Liability Debate over dog bites brings up important questions

A debate among state lawmakers highlighted some of the key issues in determining who is the responsible party when a dog bites a human. State laws on dog bite liability vary widely across the country, reflecting different viewpoints on the duties of a dog owner. On one side are those who support what is essentially strict liability for dog owners - they must be held responsible no matter the circumstances when their dog bites another person. Strict liability means there is only one question - did the dog bite the human? If the answer is yes the owner is held responsible.

On the other side of the debate are those who argue for leniency for dog owners, advocating that courts should consider whether the dog has been violent or aggressive in the past or whether the dog was provoked by the victim or a third party at the time of the attack. Laws under this view require a more nuanced investigation of the events beyond whether or not the incident occurred. Some laws also impose increased responsibility for owners of dogs of certain breeds that are considered more likely to be aggressive.

In California a dog owner is strictly liable for the injuries resulting from bites of their animals.  These injuries and damages can be significant.  Facial injuries, lifelong emotional distress and disfigurement are common dog attack injuries.

Victims of dog bites should be afforded a source for being made whole from the horrors of an animal attack.  The dog owner should be accountable for the acts of the animal they own.  The dog owner is in the postition to obtain insurance to provide coverage for injuries their animal causes.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog attack, we can help.  For over 35 years the Law Offices of David P. Beeson have helped victims of dog attacks.  Experience counts.  Call us at 619-233-6078 to discuss your case with our attorneys. For more information visit

Here in California, the laws require strict liability for dog owners, which means that the surrounding circumstances do not mitigate their responsibility for an attack. Owners of dogs who cause and injury or a death because of an attack will be liable for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, as well as emotional distress and pain and suffering. 

Source: Washington Post, “Maryland Senate engages in debate over who should pay in dog-bite cases,” Fredrick Kunkle, Feb. 27, 2014. 


I will be calling for an appointment. Got bit last week. Thanks for the information in the article.

Thank you for your comment. I am happy we were able to provide useful information to you and that you have chosen our firm to represent you. Over the years our law firm has represented many victims of dog attacks. We bring our 35 years of experience to every matter in which we are involved. Experience counts. I look forward to meeting with you.

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