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California Dog Bite Law on Provocation

What If a Dog Bite Was Provoked? Insight From the Best Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

For the most part, if a dog was provoked into biting someone, the aggrieved individual will not be entitled to any damages. Below, our experienced dog bite attorneys will discuss dog bites that were provoked, as well as the special circumstances behind these claims. If you have suffered a dog bite, the experienced dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about dog bite claims and available damages.

The Role Of Provocation

Provocation can mean many things. Most people assume it automatically means poking or teasing a dog in an overt way, such as by taunting it from behind the safety of a fence. Of course, taunting a dog from behind the safety of a fence is a valid example of a behavior that is intended to provoke a dog. But there are many other actions that can easily provoke a dog into attacking. 

For the most part, any behavior or action that makes a dog behave aggressively can count as provocation. If it can be proven that you provoked a dog, you will not likely be entitled to any damages and the dog owner will not be subject to liability. 

An aggrieved individual needs to show that the dog that bit him or her was not actually provoked. This person must be truthful and convince a court that it was more than 50% likely that the dog that bit him or her was not truly provoked. On the other hand, the dog owner would have to argue the inverse, that the dog was indeed provoked.

Special Circumstances And The Dog’s History

Let’s consider a few unique circumstances. Let’s say that a very unstable dog reacts very aggressively after a very minor provocation. In that case, the dog owner would be held liable because that dog owner should have already known that their dog was overly sensitive and would react aggressively. 

Also, say that a dog owner has a very aggressive dog, such as a pit bull. In that case, the standard for provocation would be quite low. An example of provocation could be something as minor as a person waving their hand near that dog’s face.  

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
  • Other Non-Economic Damanges

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 are only incorporated in 5% 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 Is Here To Help

If you are a dog bite victim and need help getting legal advice, West Coast Trial Lawyers has experienced dog bite attorneys that will help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. There are no financial risks when you use our services. No fees are paid until your case is settled. Reach out to our legal team 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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