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Pursuing Damages for a Dog Bite in California

Pets are more than just animals; for many of us, they’re members of the family. We tend to their needs as we would for any other loved one – we take them to the vet for medical care, feed them, and make sure they feel loved.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same care and devotion to their animals. When the negligent care or supervision of a dog leads to another’s injury, the owner of the animal might be liable for the damages that result. Here’s what you need to know about pursuing monetary damages for a dog bite in the state of California.

When Can I Pursue Damages for a Dog Bite In California?

Section 3342 of the California Civil Code outline instances in which the owner of a dog might be liable for a dog bite. The following must apply:

  • You incurred injury from a dog bite
  • You received the dog bite in a public place, or while lawfully occupying a private place.

California’s dog bite rules also apply exclusively to bites, so you couldn’t collect compensation for other injuries incurred by interactions with a dog. However, these may fall under California’s typical negligence rules.

A Matter of Strict Liability

In California, dog bites fall under the legal concept of strict liability. This means that you won’t need to prove a dog’s owner was negligent to collect damages arising from a bite. You only need to show a dog bit you while you were occupying a space legally. In other words, dog owners cannot escape liability by stating they didn’t know their dog was dangerous. The owner is strictly liable for all damages that may arise from a dog bite, even if that dog has no prior history of biting people. Unlike other personal injury cases, you don’t have to show the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to prove your case for damages.

What to Do After a Dog Bite in California

Though dog bites are a matter of strict liability, there are still things you can do to protect your case in the event of an injury. Take the following steps after a dog bite:

  • Seek appropriate medical care. A dog bite may require stitches and your provider will likely want to vaccinate you for possible complications, like rabies. Dogs can carry serious diseases so even minor bites require medical care. Be sure to visit your doctor for treatment as soon as possible.
  • Document as much as possible. When you sustain a dog bite and want to file a claim against the owner responsible, it’s essential to provide as much documentation as you can to illustrate the grounds for your claim. Medical bills, photos of the injury, a picture of the dog, and the owner’s contact information are all examples of possible documentation that could prove useful.
  • Contact an attorney. Lastly, it’s essential to schedule a free initial consultation with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. Even if your injury seems minor, it may take time for the full symptoms to manifest. An attorney can help you gain compensation for any medical bills and other damages that may arise from the bite.

Anyone who sustains injury from a dog bite in California may be able to collect compensation from the owner. By receiving appropriate medical care and collecting as much documentation as possible, you can effectively protect your case. Consulting with an attorney will help determine if you have legal grounds for a case and facilitate the process of receiving compensation for your injuries and noneconomic damages.