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California Cat Bite Personal Injury Laws

Can You Sue for a Cat Bite Injury?

Cats tend to be more elusive than dogs so it is no surprise that cat bite cases are less common than dog bites. However, that doesn’t mean that they do not happen. Cats are more mysterious than dogs. It can be difficult to know when they’re about to attack. But when they do, the damages can be severe.

In California, the cat owner is held liable if the victim can prove the owner knew the cat was aggressive and did nothing to protect others from the aggressive behavior. West Coast Trial Lawyers are the top personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles and we can help you in case of a cat or dog bite.

California “Strict Liability” Law

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

According to California’s strict liability law, all pet owners are liable for unprovoked injuries caused by an animal with dangerous tendencies. In California, it is the owner’s duty of care to prevent their animal from attacking. Proving that the owner knew the cat was dangerous can be difficult.

Victims can get testimonies from neighbors or others that have witnessed the animal’s behavior in the past. California also requires doctors to report cat bites, so if there is a previous cat bite on file, you are likely to have a stronger case.

Are Cat Bites Really That Bad?

Many do not know that cat saliva contains a bacteria called pasteurella multocida, which can be dangerous to humans. Since cats have smaller, sharper teeth than dogs, their bites are usually smaller and deeper. Due to the nature of the bite, the wound usually heals fairly quickly, which traps the bacteria beneath the skin.

Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can cause cellulitis or blood poisoning. Those with compromised immune systems, such as children and the elderly, are particularly at risk. According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, one third of cat bite victims needed to be hospitalized and 57 percent of them required surgery. About 67 percent had to get cleaning and removal of dead or infected tissue. 8 patients were required to have more than one operation to make a full recovery.

Cat Scratches

Though cat bites are dangerous, their first line of defense is their nails. A cat scratch can dig deep into your skin, exposing your blood to bacteria. A common illness caused by a scratch is Cat Scratch Fever or Cat Scratch Disease, which is caused by the bacteria called bartonella henselae.

Symptoms for CSD appear anywhere between 3 to 14 days. Victims may have a fever, headaches, poor appetite, or exhaustion. If left untreated, this disease will eventually cause complications in the heart, brain, and eyes.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations for Damages in California 
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Can Defend You in a Cat Bite Case

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a cat bite, an expert personal injury attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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