How Much Can You Sue for a Dog Bite in California? 

a dog barks just before it bites | The Law Offices of Mickey Fine

Having served clients throughout California for decades, our Bakersfield dog bite lawyers are commonly asked about settlement possibilities for a range of cases, including dog bites.

Whether visiting a friend or walking down a public street, a dog bite or attack can upend your day and may even cause lasting injury and scarring. The State of California has strict liability laws for dog bites, holding pet owners responsible for dog-bite damages. Victims can sue the dog owner whether or not the dog had a history of biting or viciousness. The owner is held liable for the dangerous behavior of their animal even if they tried to prevent it. 

What Damages Can You Seek for a Dog Bite? 

Compensation in dog bite injury claims includes the cost of medical bills. These traumas are more likely to get infected due to the dog’s saliva, and a severe dog bite may leave you with permanently-disfiguring scars. Emotional trauma from the incident may lead to a lifelong fear of dogs, and children are particularly vulnerable. Dog bites may cause lacerations, scratches, puncture wounds, bone fractures, rabies, nerve damage, and death. 

Aside from medical expenses, lost wages from missed days of work or professional setbacks are eligible for damages. Physical and psychological pain and suffering, property damage, and loss of consortium may also apply. Punitive damages may be awarded, but this is rare in dog bite cases and would require the owner’s conduct to be exceptionally egregious. 

What is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite in California? 

According to Triple-I and State Farm, two leading home insurance providers, homeowners paid nearly $900M in dog-related settlements in 2021 alone. The average cost of each claim was $49,025, with 17,989 total claims filed for dog bites. California had the highest number of cases, with 2,026 totaling $120.7M in damages, with an average value of $59,561. 

Does Insurance Cover Dog Bites? 

A dog owner can choose to carry insurance covering a dog bite injury. The “opt-in” choice raises homeowners’ and renters’ insurance premiums, so many dog owners choose not to carry dog bite insurance because of the added cost. A “dangerous” breed, such as German shepherds, Dobermans, huskies, and pit bulls, means an even higher insurance cost, and the dog owner may not be eligible for coverage because of the dog breed.

What Do You Need to Prove in a Dog Bite Case? 

Injured victims can only seek damages if they were bitten by the dog in a public space or lawfully private place. Anyone performing a legal duty, including mail carriers and delivery personnel, has a lawful right to be on private property. A dog bite claim can be filed if a dog grabs someone with its teeth but doesn’t break the skin. 

In some cases, stipulations prevent dog bite victims from suing the owner. Someone bitten by a police or military dog when the dog was performing their job with law enforcement or defending someone could not file a claim unless they were an innocent victim not involved in the suspected or alleged crime. Veterinarians and vet assistants can’t press charges against the owner if the dog bites them during treatment. 

California’s comparative negligence statute applies to dog bite injuries. If you were poking or prodding the animal before they attacked, your damages would be reduced by the percentage you are deemed at fault for the incident. 

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite in California? 

You have two years from the date of the dog bite to file your claim against the dog’s owner. It’s best to pursue your case immediately when the evidence, testimony, and injury are fresh. If you fail to file your dog bite complaint within the two-year period, the judge will likely dismiss the case without hearing details. 

How Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Help? 

Dog bite cases may carry severe injuries and high emotions, and it’s best to contact a Bakersfield dog bite lawyer to help you through this process rather than deal with the dog owner or attempt to represent yourself. An attorney who specializes in dog bite cases knows how to establish liability and which damages apply. These claims can be complicated and must prove that the owner was negligent and that you were lawfully there and supposed to be protected. The lawyer gathers evidence, consults with experts, and builds your case so you can focus on recovering. 

Contact a Bakersfield Dog Bite Lawyer for Free 

If you or a loved one experienced a dog bite in California, don’t wait to build your claim. The Bakersfield dog bite lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine have helped injured victims like you recover compensation for negligence.

See what our clients say about us.

Contact our office today online or at (661) 333-3333 for a free consultation.

Dog Bite
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on