California Dog Bite Defenses:
In California dog bite defenses such as assumption of risk may be plead as a defense to the California Dog Bite Statute. However, it is not enough to evidence simply that a dog may bite. Rather, there must be plaintiff’s knowledge and appreciation of a danger involved and her voluntary appreciation of the risk.
How to apply this rule to a set of facts?
For example, let’s say a man trespasses onto your property and on these premises is a large German Shepard tied to a stake. The dog owner who owns the private property has posted in large font in red a sign that says “BEWARE OF GUARD DOG WILL ATTACK. DO NOT TRESPASS. NO SOLICITING.
The trespasser sees and reads the sign and sees the dog which is barking with its fangs barred and eyes back pulling at the chain trying to reach the trespasser. Then the trespasser enters the private property and walks up to the dog and tries to pet it on the head and is bit. I submit that it may be inferred from these facts that a meritorious defense exists for assumption to risk.
Assumption of risk in California does not apply if the knowledge and appreciation of the danger is only constructive knowledge. The element requires evidence of proof of actual knowledge.
Sometimes the reported cases will use the word “invited risk.” Invited risk is basically the same as assumption of risk. It can be a little confusing since comparative negligence defenses may plead facts which demonstrate invited risk. If you see invited risk in a case, analyze it as a defense for assumption of risk. Also whether within the context of the facts there is a discussion pertaining to comparative negligence as a defense in California.