Dog Bite

Can You Sue for a Minor Dog Bite in California?

July 02, 2024

There’s no such thing as minor surgery, and there’s no such thing as a minor dog bite. So yes, you can sue for a minor dog bite in California. Minor dog bites carry a lower risk of infection. But they cause the same physical and emotional injuries as any other dog bite. The physical injuries, such as deep puncture wounds, are often life-threatening, especially if the victim was a small child. The emotional injuries include post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD symptoms, like anger and depression, make it almost impossible to function.

The average settlement amount for major and minor dog bite injuries has increased significantly since 2013. A Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyer helps ensure that victims get a fair-sized piece of a larger financial pie. Compensation in a dog bite case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Building a Foundation

Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer normally has several legal options, such as:

  • Strict Liability:  If the victim was lawfully in a private place (not trespassing and not provoking the animal), owners are strictly liable for dog bite damages. A California personal injury lawyer must only establish cause or a connection between the bite and the injury.
  • Scienter (Knowledge): Most states have a strict liability law. All states recognize the one-bite rule. Owners are liable for damages if the owner knows the animal is potentially dangerous. Evidence on this point usually includes pre-bite behavior, such as aggressive barking or sudden lunging.
  • Negligence: Basically, negligence is a lack of ordinary or statutory care. Teachers who allow students to play near strange dogs are negligent. Owners who violate animal restraint laws, like fence or leash laws, are also negligent. However, owners are only negligent in extreme circumstances, so this theory doesn’t work well against owners.

Trespassing and provocation are the two most common legal defenses in California dog bite cases. These defenses work differently.

Usually, owners have no duty to protect trespassers from harm. Stories of injured burglars who successfully sued homeowners are mostly urban legends.

Provocation is a form of comparative fault. Victims who provoked dogs could be legally responsible for their own injuries. In this context, provocation goes well beyond aggressive teasing. Victims must practically torture dogs to provoke them.

Going to Court

Once medical treatment in a dog bite case is at least substantially complete, a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer generally begins negotiating with the insurance company. If the case settles before this point, the settlement might not account for all possible future medical expenses, meaning that the victim is financially responsible for them.

Occasionally, insurance companies fold faster than Superman on laundry day and immediately make deals. Usually, however, an attorney must proceed to the next step.

This next step is filing legal paperwork in court. This move pressures the insurance company into negotiating. This filing also triggers a mandatory mediation requirement, at least in most courts. More on that below.

Initially, insurance companies usually file procedural motions, hoping the judge will throw the case out of court. A court case is a little like an English class. Lawyers and students who do their homework usually defeat pretrial motions and do well on tests. So, as long as your lawyer didn’t take shortcuts, you should be okay.

Resolving a Lawsuit

We mentioned mediation above. A professional mediator usually supervises a marathon full-day negotiation session.

During this session, both sides have a duty to negotiate in good faith. Earlier settlement negotiations often fall through because insurance company lawyers make take-it-or-leave-it offers. Professional mediators don’t allow such offers. The duty of good faith requires each party to work toward settlement and compromise when necessary diligently.

Out-of-court settlements are usually good for victims. They avoid emotional courtroom showdowns that have uncertain outcomes. Furthermore, a settlement is a final resolution. When defendants lose court cases, they usually tie the matter up in appeals court. But when defendants settle cases, they write checks.

Consult Our Experienced Dog Bite Attorneys Today!

Victims of a minor dog bite are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

Credit : Photo By Midjourney

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

Call our Beverly Hills office to schedule a free consultation.

Evening, weekend and out-of-office appointments are available on request.

How can we help you ?

Fill out this form, and we'll set up a free consultation!