Dog Bites

What to Do After an Animal Bite:

If you and or your child has been attacked by an animal causing an injury, the most important thing to do is seek medical attention. Our firm is here to protect your legal rights, however, our first concern is your well-being. Please do not wait to seek medical treatment until after you have contacted us. Medical care is always the first priority. We suggest you do the following things if you are bitten:

  • Call the police and paramedics if necessary
  • Obtain the names and addresses of any witnesses
  • If you have a camera available photograph the accident scene and the animal that bit you. If you are unable to photograph the animal, make notes as soon as possible after the incident. Include the animals name, breed, size, color, location, how the bite occurred, date, time, etc.
  • Keep the clothing you were wearing at the time of the attack. This may be important later. You should also take photographs of any injury (after medical treatment)
  • Notify your local animal control and give general information about the attack (do not give a detailed statement until you have spoken with an attorney)

Legal Recovery:

California’s primary statute for dealing with dog bite cases is Civil Code § 3342. The state of California follows a “strict liability” doctrine which states that the owner of the dog is liable for any damage caused by their dog, regardless of whether or not the dog has ever bitten anyone in the past. There is no “free bite” rule for dog owners or keepers in California. The dog bite victim only needs to show that the dog bit him or her and caused injury requiring medical attention and care. Once that is established the owner of the animal must pay for all the damages caused by his or her dog.

Legal recovery for animal bites and or attacks begins with determining who owns the animal. If a stray dog bites you, you will have little chance to recover because a claim must be filed with a dog owner and or handler.

If the owner is identified, and the statutory requirements above are met, the victim may recover:

  • Medical expenses: such as first aid, emergency care, hospitalization, plastic surgery, etc.
  • Future medical treatment: including scar reduction and or plastic surgery
  • Loss of earning from work: this can include loss wages for a parent or caregiver who cared for the child after injury
  • In addition, the injured party would have a claim for their general damage i.e.: A claim for the injury itself and for pain and suffering caused by the injurier.