Dogs are man’s best friend – but sometimes, that relationship isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What happens if you’re bitten by a dog, whether it’s a friend’s dog or a loose pup on the street? Can you file a lawsuit to help pay your medical bills? What if your own dog is injured trying to protect you? Check out this dog bite lawsuit FAQ to learn about your rights and find out what to do if you’ve been bitten.
Dog Bite Lawsuit FAQ
If a dog bites you, its owner is usually responsible – but that’s not always the case. Here are some common questions about dog bites and dog bite lawsuits. If you don’t see an answer to your question here, please call our office at 818-230-8380 for a free consultation with an attorney.
Dog Bite Lawsuit Basics
When a dog bites you or otherwise harms you, the person who owns the dog can be held responsible for your injuries. However, it depends on how the incident occurred. If you’re just walking down the street, a dog jumps over the fence (or the dog is already running loose) and attacks you, the owner is most likely liable. However, if you see two dogs in a fight and you jump in to break it up, resulting in bites and scratches, the dog’s owner might not be held responsible; that’s because you willingly put yourself in the middle of a dog fight (even if one of the dogs is yours and you simply want to protect it). Likewise, if you’re bitten by a dog after breaking into someone’s house, the owner may not be held liable. However, every case is different – and your best bet after any dog bite is to get in touch with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney.
Dog owners are responsible if the victim didn’t provoke the dog and he or she was bitten in public or while lawfully on private property.
The bottom line is that about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year, and one in five of them become infected. That can result in injuries becoming more serious, missed work and hefty medical bills. If you or one of your loved ones has suffered a dog bite or been attacked by a dog, you could be entitled to financial compensation.
How Much Money Can You Get in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
The amount of money you can sue a dog owner for depends on your case. In California, the average settlement in 2019 was just over $51,000. That includes settlements and court-ordered payments.
Should You Sue After a Dog Bite?
You can’t sue a dog’s owner because their dog bit your dog – but you can sue if their dog bites you. Dogs are considered property in California (although that’s changing a little over time).
However, California is a “strict liability” state. That means a dog owner is responsible for injuries that their dog causes, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before and even if the owner has no reason to believe that the dog was dangerous.
You can’t usually sue if:
- You were unlawfully on someone’s property (such as trespassing)
- You provoked the dog into biting you
- The dog was protecting its owner or someone else in accordance with California’s self-defense laws
- The dog is a military or police canine being used appropriately
What Damages Are Covered in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
You may be able to receive compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Physical or vocational therapy costs
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of the use of a limb
- Psychological counseling
- Pain and suffering
How Much Money Would You Get From a Dog Attack?
The amount of money you could receive from a dog attack lawsuit can vary based on the circumstances of your case, including how much your medical bills cost. Your best bet is to talk to an attorney about your situation.
How Long Does a Dog Bite Case Take to Settle?
There’s a statute of limitations on filing a dog bite lawsuit – it’s two years in California – and you must file before the statute of limitations expires. It can take several months (or longer) to work through negotiations in a dog bite case. Your attorney will probably advise you to continue negotiations while they’re possible, but if the responsible party won’t offer you a reasonable settlement, he or she may suggest that you file a formal lawsuit in court. Even if you have been negotiating for quite some time, you must still file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires on your case.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, we may be able to help you recover damages. Call us at 818-230-8380 right now for a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney – we’ll answer your questions and give you the legal advice you need.