If a Dog Bites and Injures You, What is Your Recourse?

If a dog bites and injures you in Southern California, what is your recourse? After you’ve been treated, the first step you should take is scheduling a consultation to discuss your rights – and in particular, your right to recover compensation – with a Pasadena dog bite attorney.

More than 4.5 million of us become dog bite victims each year in this nation, and more than 800,000 victims each year seek medical attention for dog bites.

How does the law hold dog owners accountable for injuries caused by their dogs? If a dog bites and injures you, how can you and your Pasadena dog bite lawyer prove that the owner was liable and win the compensation you need for your medical expenses and related losses?

How Does California Law Address Dog Bites?

In some states, a “one bite rule” makes a dog’s owner liable for the injuries the dog causes if an owner knew or should have known about a dog’s dangerous tendencies. To obtain compensation in these states, victims must prove that an owner knew his or her dog bit someone in the past.

California is not one of those states. In most dog bite cases in this state, the legal concept called “strict liability” applies. Strict liability holds the owner liable for a dog bite even when the owner wasn’t negligent and took every reasonable precaution to prevent the dog from biting someone.

Under California law, owners are strictly liable for dog bites that happen in public and for bites that happen in private settings if the victim had the right to be there. There are, however, several exceptions to strict liability. A victim’s lawsuit probably will not prevail if:

1. The dog was a police dog in the line of duty.

2. The victim was trespassing on property belonging to the dog’s owner.

3. The victim provoked the animal or willingly assumed the risk of a dog bite.

How Serious Are Dog Bite Injuries?

Dog bites may cause staph infections, tissue and muscle injuries, nerve damage, disfigurement, and a substantial loss of blood. When a dog shows signs of rabies or can’t be located after biting someone, a doctor may order a rabies vaccination. A dog bite sometimes requires skin grafting.

For many victims, recovering from a dog bite may require several surgeries and months or even years of therapy. The costs for long-term treatment and care can be exorbitant, so some dog bite victims will need the maximum available amount of compensation.

However, if a biting dog injures you in Southern California, unless an exception applies to your case, strict liability puts the law on your side. After a doctor examines and treats you, schedule a meeting to discuss your options and rights with a Pasadena dog bite attorney.

How Should You Handle the Dog Owner’s Insurance Company?

Many homeowners policies include dog bite coverage. If you become a dog bite victim, do not make any statement to the owner’s insurance company or sign any document for that company before you consult a Pasadena dog bite lawyer.

The dog owner’s insurance company will likely try to pay you less than your claim is worth – or in some cases, nothing at all – and any document you sign or statement you make may be used against you.

If you accept a settlement for less than your injury claim is worth, you’ll also be waiving your right to take further legal action to recover additional compensation.

Will You Have to Appear in Court?

In California, the statute of limitations for initiating legal action after a dog bite – the deadline – is two years from the date of the incident. You should also know that most personal injury claims based on dog bite injuries are settled privately and outside of the courtroom.

Your Southern California injury attorney will negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company for a fair and reasonable settlement amount. However, if the dog’s owner challenges your claim, or if no acceptable settlement offer is forthcoming, your lawyer will take your case before a jury.

At a personal injury trial, which is rare in dog bite cases, your attorney will explain to the jurors how the dog bit and injured you, how extensively you were injured, and why the jury should find in your favor and order the dog owner’s insurance company to compensate you.

Can Dog Bites Be Avoided?

Dogs usually exhibit warning signs before they bite someone. Both adults and children need to know these signs. Before it bites, a dog may:

1. go rigid

2. raise the hackles on its back and neck

3. bare its teeth

4. growl aggressively

5. bark furiously


Here are some suggestions for dealing with a dog you do not know:

1. Do not make eye contact or come near a dog (without its owner’s consent).

2. Don’t pet or try to touch a dog (without its owner’s consent).

3. Remain still and calm. Running or screaming could provoke the dog.

In California, a dog’s owner must prevent his or her dog from biting and injuring others. Strict liability requires dog owners in this state to take practical and effective steps to keep their dogs from injuring others.

Let Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell Handle Your Dog Bite Case

If you or anyone in your family becomes a dog bite victim, contact Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell at once to schedule a free legal consultation with no obligation. You’ll be given personalized legal advice, and you’ll learn how the law applies to your own circumstances.

For more than four decades, the award-winning team of attorneys at Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell has represented – and has prevailed on behalf of – the injured victims of negligence in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.

We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our personal injury clients. After a dog bite, and after you receive medical treatment, call Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell at 626-208-9906. Let us put the law to work for you and fight for the compensation you need and deserve.