Dogs might be known as man’s best friend, but dog bites in someone’s house can be scary and cause serious injuries. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, dog bites are not uncommon.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the US, with more than 800,000 requiring medical attention. While dogs are often beloved companions and family pets, certain situations may lead to unexpected bites, even in someone’s home.
California Dog Bite Laws
California follows a strict liability approach when it comes to dog bites. Regardless of the dog’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge of such behavior, they can be held legally responsible for any injuries caused by their dog biting someone.
In some states, dog owners may only be liable if their dog has shown previous aggressive behavior, often known as the “one-bite” rule. California does not follow this approach. Under California law, the owner of a dog is liable for damages if their dog bites someone in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including when:
- The victim was trespassing at the time of the attack,
- The victim provoked the dog,
- The victim was injured by a military or service animal on the job, and
- The victim assumed the risk.
Every California dog bite situation is different, so seek the advice of an experienced California dog bite lawyer if you have any questions.
California also has specific statutes addressing dogs that have bitten people before. If this is the case, it could lead to possible criminal liability for the owner. According to California law, a dog can be classified as potentially dangerous if it has attacked a person or another animal twice within three years, or if it’s bitten someone once and caused minor injuries.
A dog is considered vicious if it has ever severely injured or killed someone, or attacked another animal or person more than twice during the previous three years. However, it is still important to remember that the law allows the victims of dog bite attacks to hold the owners liable regardless of the dog’s past behavior.
Potential Recoverable Damages for Dog Bites in California
A dog bite victim party may be eligible to recover various types of damages depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Recoverable damages for a dog bite in California include:
- Medical Expenses. Costs associated with medical treatment, including hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
- Future Medical Expenses. Anticipated medical costs for ongoing treatment or future procedures related to the dog bite injury.
- Lost Wages. Compensation for income lost due to the inability to work during recovery.
- Future Lost Earnings. Payment for future earnings the victim will lose out on if the dog bite results in long-term or permanent disability affecting their ability to work.
- Pain and Suffering. Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by the dog bite.
- Emotional Distress. Damages for the psychological harm, anxiety, or other emotional trauma resulting from the dog bite incident.
- Scarring or Disfigurement. Additional compensation for visible scars or disfigurement resulting from the dog bite.
- Property Damage. If personal property, such as clothing or accessories, is damaged during the incident, the cost of replacement or repair.
In some rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded if the dog owner’s conduct was particularly egregious or demonstrated a willful disregard for the safety of others. However, every case is different, so consult with a personal injury attorney to protect your rights and help assess the true amount of compensation you are entitled to.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
If you’ve been bitten by a dog and aren’t sure what to do next, here’s a list of things a victim should consider doing to protect their rights.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Prioritize your health and well-being by seeking prompt medical attention for your injuries. Bigger dogs can cause more damage, but small dogs can do real damage as well. Dogs can carry certain bacteria that can make humans sick, so be sure to put your safety first.
Document the Incident
Gather information about the dog owner, including their name and contact details. Be sure to take pictures of the scene, the dog, and your injuries, and collect contact information from any witnesses present during the incident.
Report the Incident
Report the dog bite to local animal control or law enforcement authorities. Depending on the county you live in, this might be mandatory. Provide details about the incident, the dog, and the owner. If the bite occurred while on the job, report the incident to your employer as well.
Obtain Information About the Dog
Find out if the dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, and get the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance information, if possible. In many cases, a homeowner’s policy covers dog bite damages.
Obtain Records and Evidence
Keep copies of any medical records, bills, or receipts related to the dog bite, and preserve any damaged clothing or personal items as evidence.
Get Legal Advice
Seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite cases, like the team at Weinberg Law. Be sure to share all details of the incident and provide any documentation you’ve gathered.
If you were the victim of a dog bite in California, you are entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. However, we know that legal matters can be daunting, and you may not know where to start for your recovery.
That’s where the personal injury team at Weinberg Law can help. No matter how big or small the case, we dedicate our full attention to the needs of our clients and will fight for every bit of compensation they deserve. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation and get started.