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Are dog owners liable for dog bite injuries in California?

Generally, yes, under California's dog bite statute, dog owners are absolutely responsible for any injuries caused when their dogs bite, even if the dog in question has never been violent before.

However, while this dog bite statute has proven to be an indispensible legal tool for dog attack victims, it is important to point out that there are rare exceptions to this law - exceptions that dog owners can use to escape legal liability.

For instance, the statute only applies if you, the victim, are in a public place or lawfully on private property. Therefore, if you are illegally trespassing when the bite occurs, you may not be able to seek compensation under the dog bite statute. Conversely, if you are invited onto the dog owner's private property, he or she will be liable if you are bitten by his or her dog. Similarly, if you are on the property performing your job, such as a postal carrier, you may be able to seek damages from the property owner following a dog bite.

Legal accountability on the part of the dog owner may also be reduced - or eliminated - if you antagonize or provoke the dog into biting you. Although, if the victim is particularly young, it is more likely that the dog owner will be liable under the dog bite statute, regardless of the young child's acts.

These are merely a few of situations in which a dog owner may attempt to avoid responsibility following a dog bite. However, even if California's dog bite statute doesn't apply to your particular situation, it is important to remember that other forms of legal liability - including negligence and common law - may still apply. This is why it is always best to contact a legal professional to learn what your rights and options may be.

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