If a dog bites someone while on your property in California, you could be held liable for any damages the bite victim incurs. The extent of your liability may depend on whether the dog was provoked or if the person who was bit had the right to be on the premises.

You have a duty of care to others

As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to mitigate any dangerous conditions that might exist on your property. This generally means that you have to keep your dog confined inside or a sufficient distance away from others who come to your home. You may also be able to limit your liability by posting signs warning guests about the presence of a potentially dangerous animal.

What the law considers to be a dangerous animal

If your dog has bitten someone in the past, it could be labeled as a dangerous animal. This might be true regardless of how large the animal is or how dangerous you perceive it to be. In the event that your dog bites someone, you could be held strictly liable for damages that an injured victim incurs.

Trespassers may not be protected under the law

A person who trespasses on your property may not be entitled to compensation if he or she is bitten by your dog. The same could be true if an individual is hurt while trying to break into your home or otherwise commit a crime.

Insurance policies may offer financial protection

In many cases, your homeowners or renters insurance policies will cover some or all of the compensation owed to a person who was bit on your property. Your pet insurance policy may also cover any damages related to a dog bite.

If a person is hurt on your property, an injured victim may pursue legal action against you. An attorney who has experience with premises liability cases may be able to protect your rights and help obtain a favorable outcome in your case.