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Dog Bite Lawsuits - An Injured Victims Guide To Compensation

Posted by Siamak Vaziri | Jul 24, 2023 | 0 Comments

If you have been injured in a dog attack, it is important to understand that California law gives you the right to recover monetary compensation for the injuries, damages and losses you have sustained. In most cases, California's strict liability statute also holds the dog owner liable or financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses their pets cause. In this article, we will share information about how to file a dog bite lawsuit in California and the evidence you need as a plaintiff to secure compensation for the losses you have sustained as the result of a dog attack.

What is a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

A dog bite lawsuit is a civil lawsuit brought against a dog owner by an injured victim and/or their family to seek compensation for the injury and harm the dog bite has caused. California has a strict liability statute when it comes to dog bites laws, which means dog owners can be held liable for injuries and damages their pets cause regardless of whether the attack occurred on public or private property or whether or not the owner knew that their dog had a propensity for viciousness.

California Civil Code Section 3342 states: "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."

Elements of a Dog Bite Lawsuit: What Do You Need to Prove?

Like any other personal injury lawsuit, in a dog bite case, plaintiffs must prove that the negligence of dog owners in order to receive compensation. This means that you need to prove that you sustained injury as the result of an unprovoked dog attack and that the owner should be held liable or accountable for the damages you sustained as a result of the attack.

Even though California has a strict liability statute, plaintiffs must prove that a dog owner violated his or her duty of care by being negligent and allowing, for example, the dogs to leave their yard or wander around a neighborhood without a leash. Some evidence that can help prove your case and the owner's negligence include:

  • Your medical records of having received treatment for your dog bite injuries.
  • Speak with witnesses who saw the dog attack.
  • Take photos of the injury and preserve any evidence you may have such as torn or bloody clothing.
  • It would be very helpful to have photos of the dog bite soon after it happened. This will help provide visual evidence along with a time stamp showing the date and time. Videos can also be valuable evidence.
  • It is also important to identify the dog owner and their location.
  • Talk to neighbors about whether the dog or dogs in question have displayed aggressive behavior. While this is not required to seek compensation in California, it would be helpful to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner.

Who Can Be Held Liable in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

In a vast majority of these cases, the lawsuit is filed against the owner or the caretaker of the dog. Usually, the homeowner or renter will have some type of homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance that covers dog bites. The insurer will likely attempt to negotiate a settlement with you in order to avoid going to court.

A significant number of dog bite lawsuits are settled out of court although some do go to trial. However, it is important to remember that once you agree to a settlement you give up your right to make future claims arising out of the incident. This is why it is critical to consult with an experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyer before you agree to a settlement to ensure that it covers all your losses.

In some cases, dog bite lawsuits could be based on premises liability. For example, if a property owner or manager was aware that a dangerous dog was living on their property, the landlord could be held liable for the losses. In other cases, if an individual is attacked by a police dog, the agency could be held liable. These cases can get tricky because of the immunity government agencies have. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options in these cases.

Compensation in Dog Bite Lawsuits

If you have been injured in a dog bite, you may be entitled to a number of damages including:

  • All medical expenses to treat and rehabilitate your injuries
  • Lost income if you missed work because of your injuries
  • Loss of earning capacity if you suffered injuries that diminish your ability to earn
  • Permanent injuries and disabilities such as loss of limbs
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Cost of cosmetic/reconstructive surgery to repair scars and bite wounds
  • Psychological counseling for issues such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Comparative Negligence

Dog owners often try to defend against liability by claiming that you provoked the dog or were responsible for the attack in some way. For example, the owner may claim that you trespassed on private property triggering the attack or that you attempted to provoke the dog. Under the law of comparative negligence in California, even if you are partially responsible for the dog attack, you may be able to seek compensation for a dog attack by filing a dog bite lawsuit.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

If you have been injured in a dog attack, be sure to get the name and contact information for the dog's owner and their insurance details. File an official police report and obtain a copy of the report for your own records. Seek prompt medical attention and care. You may be at risk of a serious infection.

Contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who can provide you with more information about pursuing your legal rights. At the Vaziri Law Group, APC our attorneys can help you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company and gather the evidence you need to proceed with a dog bite lawsuit so you can receive maximum compensation for your losses.

About the Author

Siamak Vaziri

Attorney Siamak Vaziri’s mission is to help make his clients whole by obtaining maximum physical, emotional, and financial recovery. Mr. Vaziri’s clients' needs come first, evidenced by his 98% success rate, more than $1 Billion in client settlements and verdicts, as well as 100+ 5-star reviews. Mr. Vaziri invests every resource to nurture his client and partner relationships and does so with integrity and a relentless work ethic.


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