Liability for Dog Bites With No Injury
Can You Hold Someone Liable for a Dog Bite that Resulted in No Injury?
When it comes to dog bites, it’s important to know that California is a strict liability state. This means that as long as a dog bite occurred in a public place or lawfully on private property — including the dog owner’s property — the dog owner will be held liable for any injuries. Dog bites are emotionally and physically devastating injuries that may require medical attention, depending on how severe the injury is. Even in minor cases, dog bites and scratches can sometimes lead to complications given they can carry diseases.
In most instances, dog owners are liable for any personal injury or property damage their pets cause. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in an estimated 800,000 injuries that require medical attention.
More than 50 percent of dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property, and they account for one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims. California had the largest number of dog bite claims in 2018.
According to California Civil Code Section 3342, a dog owner will be held liable for damages when:
- A victim’s injuries were caused by a dog bite
- A victim was bitten in a public place or while lawfully on private property
California’s negligence rules may apply to dog attack cases. Ultimately, this means the victim who was not bitten must prove that the dog owner’s negligence was the primary cause of any injuries sustained.
But What if the Dog Bite Doesn’t Break the Skin?
If you were bitten by a dog and it didn’t break the skin, you can still sue. There is no specification required for a resulting injury under California’s dog bite statute. While broken skin, lacerations, and puncture wounds are the typical result of dog bites, all that is required to have a strong claim is that the dog gripped the victim with its teeth.
Rather than whether the dog bite broke the skin or not, a dog bite victim will not usually be entitled to damages in California when:
- He or she was trespassing on private property
- He or she deliberately provoked the dog
- The dog was protecting the owner or someone else according to California’s self-defense laws
- The dog was engaged in military or police work
Furthermore, California’s statute of limitations on a personal injury — which includes a dog bite accident — case is two years. This means that an injured dog bite victim has two years from the time the dog bite first occurred in order to preserve their rights and file a claim in court.
Dog bite victims in California are typically entitled to compensation for their losses. Compensatory damages may include:
- Emotional Distress
- Lost Wages
- Property Loss
- Medical Bills
- Physical/Vocational Therapy
- Psychological Counseling
- Lost Earning Capacity
- Pain and Suffering
Though rarely awarded, an aggrieved individual may be able to recover punitive damages in certain cases. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant who has engaged in particularly egregious behavior. In order for a dog bite victim to recover punitive damages, they must prove with clear and convincing evidence that the dog owner’s actions were fraudulent or malicious in nature.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of a dog bite, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible. An experienced dog bite 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 knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.