Tort in Essence

The violation of a dog bite statute is a “tort in essence.” 

“A tort in essence is the breach of a nonconsensual duty owed another. Violation of a statutory duty to another may therefore be a tort and violation of a statute embodying a public policy is generally actionable even though no specific civil remedy is provided in the statute itself. Any injured member of the public for whose benefit the statute was enacted may bring the action.” (Laczko v. Jules Meyers, Inc. (1969) 276 Cal.App.2d 293, 295.)

A defendant may be held liable for a tort in essence for violating a provision of the Civil Code. (South Bay Building Enterprises, Inc. v. Riviera Lend-Lease, Inc. (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1111, 1123.)

In California, the basis for the doctrine of tort in essence is the Civil Code itself, which states, “Every person is bound, without contract, to abstain from injuring the person or property of another, or infringing upon any of his rights.” (Civil Code section 1708.)