Visitor Question

Claim for attack by Pit bull in gated front yard?

Submitted By: Vince (Modesto, California)

In Modesto California on Feb 5th 2018, I was attacked by an acquaintance’s Pit bull as I entered the front yard. I have several cuts and tears to my right leg. The fibula bone is also fractured.

The neighbor and I agreed to hang out earlier that day. We had recently hung out at his house in Modesto the day before, without incident. But the next day I went to the house around 4:30 pm and entered the yard and was attacked.

  1. No posted warning sign of dangerous dog exists.
  2. Dog was not tied or chained up for protection.
  3. I later found out that dog had previously bitten someone but the owner persuaded the guy not to tell.

I see clear negligence by the owner, yet he states I entered the dog’s yard and that’s why I got bit. I have a case, right?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Vince,

The applicable law addressing dog bites in California is California’s Civil Code Section 3342.5, which reads in part:

(a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.

By being liable for “damages” means a dog owner subject to Section 3342.5 may be required to compensate a victim for his or her medical bills, related out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and for the victim’s pain and suffering.

Daniel’s supposition of his lack of liability based on your having entered the dog’s yard is unsupportable.

  • Daniel invited you onto his property
  • He had a legal duty to protect you from the dog’s viciousness.
  • He failed to do so
  • As a result you were injured

California is a “Strict Liability” state. This means a dog owner residing in California can not be absolved from his or her liability based on the dog’s lack of prior viciousness.

Based on the facts, if you haven’t already sought medical attention, do so now. Obtain copies of medical bills, medical records, doctor’s notes, and any other documentation related to your injury.

Finally, because of the seriousness of your injuries, you would be best-served by seeking the advice and counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations.

Learn more here: Dangerous Dog Laws and Injury Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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