Can You Sue if You’re Bitten by a Dog? The Law in California Explained

Bitten by a Dog

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you may be wondering if you can sue the owner. The law on this issue can be complicated, but in general, California law allows victims of dog bites to sue the animal’s owners for damages. In this post, we’ll explain the basics of California’s dog bite laws and what you can expect if you decide to file a lawsuit.

What Does California’s Dog Bite Law Say?

California law requires dog owners to keep their dogs under control at all times. This obligation is not limited to just the owner’s property – it applies anywhere a dog may be, including on public streets or in other people’s yards. If an owner fails to properly restrain his or her animal and the dog bites someone, the owner will be held strictly liable for any harm caused by the animal.

Strict liability means that you do not need to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in order to recover compensation. However, it also means that there are some limitations on who can recover damages and how much they may receive. 

Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, an experienced personal injury attorney like Yarian Law can help. A good lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and advise you on the best way to proceed.

In most cases, it makes sense for victims of dog bites to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the animal that bit them. An experienced lawyer will be able to help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

In some cases, victims may also want to file criminal charges against a dog’s owner if they believe he or she was negligent in failing to control the animal. For example, if an owner lets his or her dog run loose on city streets without a leash and the dog bites someone, the owner may be liable for both civil and criminal penalties.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the better your chances of recovering damages for your injuries.

Is There a Statute of Limitation?

Yes, there is a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California. The statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. This means that you must file your lawsuit within two years of the date that you were bitten by the dog. If you do not file your lawsuit within this time period, you will be barred from filing a lawsuit.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are a minor at the time of the injury, you have until your 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. Or, if you are mentally incompetent, you have until two years after you regain competency to file a lawsuit.

If the dog bite occurred on public property, you may also have a claim against the government entity responsible for the property. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against a government entity is only six months.

Therefore, if you are considering suing after being bitten by a dog, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and ensure that you do not miss the deadline for filing your lawsuit.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

In California, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages if you are successful in your dog bite lawsuit. Economic damages are those that have a specific monetary value, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages are those that do not have a specific monetary value, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. In some cases, you may also be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.

What If the Dog’s Owner Is Not at Fault?

If the dog’s owner is not at fault for the bite, you may still be able to recover damages. In California, liability in a dog bite case can be based on two theories: negligence and strict liability.

Under the negligence theory, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that the defendant breached this duty, and that this breach resulted in injury to the plaintiff. In a dog bite case, the defendant may be liable if he or she knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous and did not take adequate precautions to protect people from being bitten.

Does California Follow the “One-Bite” Rule?

California does not follow the “one-bite” rule when it comes to dog bites. This rule holds that an owner is only liable for damages if he or she was aware of the animal’s vicious propensities before the bite occurred. States like Nevada and Texas, however, follow the “one-bite” rule, which means that a dog’s owner is only liable for damages if the animal has bitten someone before.

In California, owners are held strictly liable for any harm their dogs cause, regardless of whether they knew that the animals were dangerous or not.

Does California Have a “Trespasser” Exception?

California does have a “trespasser” exception to its dog bite laws. If someone is trespassing on private property without permission and is bitten by an animal, they will not be able to recover damages from the owner of the property.

However, this exception does not apply if the injured person was legally permitted to be on the premises at the time of his or her injury (for example, an invitee such as a paying customer would still have a right to sue). 

What Damages Can You Recover in California?

In general, most states allow victims of dog bites to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. 

In California, victims can also recover “economic” damages, which are those that can be quantified in terms of money (such as medical bills and lost wages). They are also allowed to recover “non-economic” damages, which are more subjective injuries such as loss of consortium or emotional distress. 

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, the law in California is on your side. You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the animal and may be able to recover damages for your injuries.


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