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What to Do if Your Child Was Bit by a Dog in California

Unfortunately, man’s best friend can make mistakes. According to recent research, dogs bite over 4 million people each year and one out of five of those attacks needs medical attention. Sadly, because of their size and lack of animal experience, children are at the highest risk of suffering from a dog bite.

When a dog bites a child there are many factors to consider: Did the child provoke the dog? Or maybe aggravated the dog in some way? California law has “strict liability” laws which render a dog owner liable if the dog bites or attacks anyone.

However, with children, the rules may be a bit obscure. West Coast Trial Lawyers practice dog bite laws in California and can answer any questions about your dog bite case.


Why a Dog May Bite a Child

Children under 12, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, are subject to the worst bites from dogs. This is usually because the child does not understand how a loving hug or squeeze might become too tight for the dog. Children may also not understand how aggressive their physical touches can be. Under these types of circumstances, a dog could feel like it is in danger or in pain and will try to communicate its disapproval of what the child is doing by showing its teeth.

This does not necessarily mean that the dog is inherently violent or evil. The dog’s reaction can indicate that it acted out of instinct of self-preservation. Whether the child provoked the dog bite or the owner ignored the dog leash law in California, you may need a dog bite lawyer.

First Aid for Dog Bites and Steps to Take After 

Depending on the degree of the dog bite, you may need to immediately seek medical attention. You must carefully review the wound and determine whether the ambulance needs to be called. Make sure to speak to the dog owner to verify if the dog is up to date with its shots. If not, then you should visit a hospital as soon as possible to check for any serious illnesses the dog could have transmitted into your body through its bite.

After a dog bite, please consider following these steps to properly take care of your injury.

Control the bleeding. Like any wound, you need to minimize the blood flow as much as possible. By using a sterile cloth or towel you can gently add pressure to the cut until it stops bleeding. For bloodier wounds, consider elevating the body part.

Clean the wound. Wash the cut with soap and water. Continue to rinse it under water for a few minutes to wash away the bacteria.

Cover it up. Once the wound is dry, be sure to dab the area, apply some antibiotic ointment, and cover it with a fresh bandage.

Filing a Lawsuit Against the Dog Owner

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If you believe that the dog owner was committing acts of negligence or recklessness for allowing the dog to bite your child, you may sue them to compensate for damages. Here are some tips on what you should do when filing a lawsuit.

Identify the owner. Make sure you locate the owner of the offending dog and collect their information. Be sure to ask them about the dog’s shots and if they are up to date with it.

Take photographs. You should take pictures of your child’s injuries, along with where the attack took place.

Collect witness information. Check to see if there are any witnesses around. If so, you should ask them for their contact information. Witness testimonies will help prove or back up your statements on how the attack occurred.

Acquire a copy of your child’s medical records. If you make an appointment to get your child’s wound examined by a medical professional, the visit will be saved on file. You may request a copy of your child’s medical records to use as a piece of evidence for your case.

Contact a dog bite attorney. An experienced dog bite attorney will guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit and will help you get fair compensation for any damages caused by the attack.

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.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

Victims of dog bites are subject to costly injuries and mental anguish. We at West Coast Trial Lawyers understand how stressful these situations can be and we handle each case with the individual attention and compassion you deserve. Our expert dog bite lawyers will make it a top priority to help you recover financial and emotional damages that you have suffered because of the attack. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, property damage, and pain and suffering.

We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with the attorneys at our firm. No fees are charged until your case has been settled. Reach out to our friendly personal injury lawyers 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].


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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