How To Recover Damages In California From A Dog Bite

How To Recover Damages In California From A Dog Bite

If a person is bitten by a dog in California, then they may be able to recover damages to compensate for injuries sustained. California Civil code 3342 sets forth the legal standards that apply in a dog bite case. In some dog bite cases, it may be necessary for a party to post a bail bond to secure certain claims or actions. A bail bonds company can provide assistance with securing the necessary bond.

What is the law on California dog bites?

California Civil code 3342 makes an owner of a dog liable when a person is bitten in a public place or while lawfully on private property. California’s dog bite statute is known as a strict liability statute, which means that the owner of the dog need not have prior notice that the dog was dangerous or vicious.

Because California’s dog bite statute is a strict liability statute, it simplifies to process to pursue punitive damages and compensatory damages through a personal injury lawsuit. 

The law does provide for some exceptions to liability. This includes situations where a person trespassed, provoked the animal, contributed to the injuries and assumed the risk of being bitten. If any of these circumstances are present, it may prevent or reduce the recovery of damages in a personal injury case.

What are some dog bite victim rights?

California law provides dog bite victim rights. If a person is bitten and they were lawfully in the public or private place where the bite occurred, then they have the right to pursue compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are is a payment to cover expenses and injuries incurred as a result of the dog bite. This includes out-of-pocket medical expenses, anticipated future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and any other detriment that resulted from the dog bite. Determining the amount of these damages is not always simple, so you should confer with an experienced attorney to ensure that your claim includes all of the available damages.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the owner. These damages may be awarded when the dog owner’s actions or negligence are egregious. For example, if a dog owner is aware that their dog is aggressive and they took no action to prevent the dog from attacking, then they may be required to provide extra damages to punish them for their behavior. These damages could also be required if the dog owner intentionally caused the dog attack.

What does the claims process entail?

A person who has been bitten by a dog may pursue a claim for damages. This may initially be raised through an insurance provider. The insurance carrier will review the claim and determine if they will offer compensation as settlement. If you accept the insurance company’s offer, then you will likely be required to release the dog owner from any further liability.

If there is no insurance coverage, or if the insurance company’s offer is insufficient, then a dog bite claim may be pursued through a formal lawsuit. To prevail in a lawsuit, the dog bite victim must show the elements of the statute and prove the extent of their damages. If you hire an attorney, the attorney will represent you during the lawsuit. If the case is not settled, then there will be a trial where the injured person can present evidence in support of their claim. The dog owner will also have an opportunity to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses presented by the dog bite victim.

Dog bite cases can be complicated, so victims should seek out the assistance of an attorney. An attorney can provide helpful legal advice and representation to assist in the process.

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