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What Is The “One Bite Rule”?

What Is The “One Bite Rule”?
Christian J. Amendt

Despite the fact that dogs act as man’s faithful companions, the truth of the matter is, no one can ever hold 100 percent certainty that their dog will never bite another person. Sometimes, state laws take this uncertainty into account.

When they do, it is the “one bite rule”, and this can have a big impact on potential bite victims in states where it is in place. But does California have such a rule?

The one-bite rule

Cornell takes a look at the so-called “one bite rule” and what it means. In essence, this rule absolves an owner of their liability for a bite injury or wound if they had no prior knowledge that the dog in question has “dangerous or vicious propensities”. This can manifest in potential aggressive behavior in the past, or previous bite incidents, hence the name of the rule. In this situation, the burden of proof, unfortunately, falls to the injured party, and they must show the owner had this prior knowledge.

Does it apply in California?

These days, however, most states have either modified or outright rejected the one-bite rule. California is one such state. If a dog bites someone in California, then the owner holds liability and responsibility for any injuries incurred even if the dog has no previous history of aggression or biting.

California’s comparative negligence law may come into play and reduce the potential financial compensation you get if courts determine the attack is partially your fault. However, this often only accounts for situations in which someone touched a dog without the owner’s consent or broke into the property with a dog on the premise. Otherwise, you will likely have access to the fullest possible amount.

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