The State of California imposes strict liability on dog owners. While many other states follow the “one bite dog rule”, California law states that dog owners can face liability in civil lawsuits filed by victims that have been bitten by their pet, even if their pet had never bitten a person before. In contrast to other states, dog owners in California can be held responsible for the injuries caused by their pet even if their pet had never displayed violent behavior before. If you or a family member was bitten by a dog, it is important to allow an experienced attorney to represent the case.
The State of California has some of the highest numbers of dog bite cases in the country. Unfortunately, these attacks can have catastrophic consequences, particularly when the victim was an elderly adult or a small child.
California’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Statute (CC §3342)
Under the state’s strict liability dog bite law, dog owners can be held liable for a person’s injuries when:
- The injured person did not provoke the animal, and
- The injured person suffered the attack while in a public space or legally on private property.
Therefore, a person cannot recover compensation for his or her injuries if:
- He or she was trespassing at the time of the attack,
- He or she provoked the canine,
- The animal was protecting the owner in accordance with the state’s self-defense laws, or
- The animal was serving as a police or military member at the time of the incident.
Compensation Available After A Dog Bite Injury
Upon a successful verdict or settlement, a person who has been bitten and injured by another’s dog can obtain compensation for:
- Medical costs,
- Surgical costs,
- Physical therapy,
- Therapy for emotional trauma,
- Psychological counseling,
- Loss of income,
- Loss of earning potential, and
- Loss of quality of life
In the case that the dog attack resulted in a death, you may be able to claim for wrongful death.
The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) developed a scale system to determine how severe a dog bite is:
- Level one: the dog behaves aggressively however there is no skin contact with their teeth.
- Level two: the dog makes skin contact without penetrating the skin.
- Level three: the bite did penetrate the skin but the wound is no deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.
- Level four: the bite did penetrate the skin with one or more wounds going deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. Bruising may also be present.
- Level five: the dog bites you multiple times and you qualify under level four conditions.
- Level six: the incident results in death.
Average Dog Bite Claim Is Valued At $43,653
In a 2020 article, QuoteWizard.com estimated in a report that the average dog bite settlement value in the United States is worth approximately $43,653. In California, that average amount balloons to over $51,000 based on nearly 2,400 dog bite claims (the highest in the nation).
It’s important to consider that this is an average dollar amount and this doesn’t mean that this is the amount you’d receive since there are numerous factors that increase or decrease the value of a dog bite claim. Additionally, there may be instances where you’d qualify for additional punitive damages.
Do You Qualify For Punitive Damages?
California law allows victims to recover punitive damages in certain cases.
Punitive damage – is geared towards defendants who conduct themselves in a malicious or disrespectful manner. In order to receive punitive damages, the plaintiff is tasked to demonstrate how the defendant’s actions amounted to “oppression, fraud or malice.”
Discuss Your Case With A Well-Versed Dog Bite Injury Attorney
Dog bite injury cases are common across the State of California. Unfortunately, these cases can often have serious consequences. If you were recently attacked and bitten by another person’s dog, seek legal representation as soon as possible. With the support of a qualified dog bite attorney, you may be able to recover fair compensation for your injuries and losses.