A Dog Bit Me. Can I Sue for Damages in California?

A Dog Bit Me. Can I Sue for Damages in California?

A dog bite can be traumatic and result in serious physical and mental injuries. As you deal with medical expenses, missed work, and lasting trauma, you may understandably be wondering if the animal’s owner can be held responsible for their dog’s violent behavior. Below, we review California’s dog bite laws.

When Is a California Dog Owner Liable for an Animal Attack?

Unlike many states, California enforces “strict liability” rules in dog bite cases. Dog owners tend to be liable for any bite-related injuries their animal causes when certain conditions are met. It does not matter if the animal has never previously exhibited aggressive or violent behavior.

In California, a dog owner is liable for an attack when:

  • The victim was bitten. Dog owners are in most cases only liable if the dog physically bites someone else. The dog’s teeth do not necessarily have to break the skin to constitute a “bite” under California law. Other types of aggressive attacks and behaviors, such as being chased or charged at, do not necessarily result in owner liability.
  • The victim was on public property or lawfully on private property when the attack occurred. Public property includes most parks, streets, and sidewalks. A dog owner will not be liable if you were trespassing on private property (such as a residence) at the time of the attack.

How Do Dog Bite Lawsuits Work in California?

You will have up to two years from the date you were bitten to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in California. If you miss this deadline, you will in most circumstances be unable to pursue legal action.

To recover damages in a dog bite case, you (and your legal representation) must prove the circumstances of your injuries meet all conditions required under California’s dog bite statute. The defense may argue that you were not lawfully present on private property or claim that certain injuries were not caused by a bite.

If the court rules in your favor, you can potentially recover compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost or missed wages
  • Property damage
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering

If you were bitten by a dog and want to hold its owner accountable, you will need capable legal advocates in your corner. Our attorneys at Samra Dhillon & Associates have over 40 years of legal experience and are ready to fight for every cent you deserve. We regularly handle dog bite claims and can provide the knowledgeable representation you need to prevail.

Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (916) 571-1550 or contacting us online.