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Monterey Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Dog Bites > The ‘One Free Bite’ Rule And How California Handles Dog Bite/Dog Attack Cases

The ‘One Free Bite’ Rule And How California Handles Dog Bite/Dog Attack Cases


Dogs have a reputation for being trusted pets. They amuse us with their antics and serve as loyal companions. However, even the most gentle and mild-mannered dog can get aggressive in certain situations. Dog bite injuries in Monterey happen regularly and can cause devastating harm to victims.  Find out more about the laws that apply in these cases and your rights in seeking compensation.

Dog Bite Injuries In Monterey

Monterey County has strict leash laws and requires dog owners to keep their pets properly restrained on their property and in public places. When owners disregard these laws or fail to take the proper precautions, serious and potentially life-threatening dog bite injuries can happen as a result.

According to the Monterey County Health Department, millions of animal bites and attacks happen throughout the U.S. each year. In close to 90 percent of cases, dogs are responsible. It is important to use caution when approaching any type of dog, as even one that appears mild-mannered can get aggressive if they are hungry, hurt, fearful, or feel the need to protect itself and its owners. Personal injuries that can happen due to dog bites in Monterey include:

  • Deep cuts and scratches, capable of causing scarring and infections;
  • Bite wounds, penetrating muscles, tendons, or other soft tissues and potentially damaging internal organs;
  • Loss of limbs, due to the ferociousness of an attack;
  • Broken bones and muscle strains or tears, which can happen while fighting the dog off;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can impact victims for years after.

The One Free Bite Rule

Many states have a ‘one free bite’ rule in place when it comes to holding dog owners responsible for dog bite injuries. This basically gives dog owners a pass when it comes to liability, provided the dog never showed any prior aggressiveness or bit anyone before.

Fortunately, this law does not apply in our area. Under the California Civil Code, dog owners can be made to pay for personal injuries suffered by others.  California imposes a form of “strict liability” on dog owners when the dog bites a human being – meaning that dog owner are, with only very limited exceptions, automatically responsible for injuries caused by a dog bite.  It is called “strict liability” because the injured person generally need not show that the dog’s owner was in any way negligent in caring for the dog.

In some circumstances, dogs may cause injuries even if they do not bite the injured person.  For example, a dog may knock you down while chasing a cat or squirrel and cause you to hit your head on the pavement.  In such cases, it may be necessary to show that the dog owner acted negligently in managing their dog.  Some common situations of owner negligence may include:

  • Failure to keep the dog leashed in public;
  • Failure to otherwise restrain their pet;
  • Allowing dogs to run loose in neighborhoods or in any public place;
  • Failing to post warnings on private property that a potentially dangerous dog is on the premises.

If you suffer dog bite injuries or other injuries caused by a dog in Monterey, you may hold the dog owner accountable through a property owner’s insurance claim or a dog bite lawsuit, regardless of whether there were any past incidents. Compensation available includes medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Contact Our Monterey Dog Bite Lawyers Today

Dog bite injuries in Monterey can be devastating and may impact victims and their families for years to come. At the Allen Law Firm, we help you hold the dog’s owner accountable in a claim.  To discuss your options, call or contact us online and request a consultation with our Monterey dog bite lawyer today.




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