California's dog bite law states that owners are strictly liable for the actions of their dogs. If their dogs bite another person, the owner is liable for those injuries. The law does have its exceptions.
Some of the exceptions include that the law only applies to the owner of the dog, that it does not apply to military or police dogs that are working, that it only applies to personal injuries and not property damage and that it only applies when the animal bites in a public place or lawfully in a private setting. What that means is that if you're trespassing at the time when you get a dog bite, strict liability will not apply to the case.
One thing that is interesting about California's dog bite laws is that dogs do not get a "free bite." In some states, a dog can bite once without the owner being held strictly liable, since he or she may not have known about the animal's propensity to bite. In California, if a dog bites, the owner is liable in the majority of cases.
Why some people don't want to report the incident
Some people do not want to report bites for the fear that the dog may be euthanized. Fortunately, this is not the go-to solution in California. Instead, there are a number of corrective measures a person can take after his or her dog attacks someone. As long as the animal is trained appropriately and the conditions are appropriate to prevent further incidents, the animal may stay with its owner at home. If the animal attacks and bites a human twice or if it has been trained to fight or attack, a court can decide to have the animal removed from the home or euthanized to protect the public.
If you are planning to file a lawsuit against the owner of a dog for the injuries you've suffered, keep in mind that the statute of limitations does apply. In most situations, you have only two years to file a lawsuit. After that point, you run out of time and are unable to file a lawsuit without special permission from the court. Your attorney can help you understand if the statute of limitations will limit your rights in your case.