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Can You Sue for a Minor Dog Bite Injury in California?

April 29, 2022 Personal injury

After a dog bite injury in California, the pet’s owner is liable for the accident, even if it is minor. In other words, yes, you can sue for a minor dog bite injury. It is best to assume that a dog bite injury is not minor until you speak with a dog bite injury lawyer. Sometimes a slight injury can have delayed symptoms and cause further repercussions over time. 

Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases

California imposes strict liability on owners of dogs that cause dog bite injuries to others. Under this law, dog owners are responsible for a victim’s losses after an injury caused by their pet, regardless of whether the dog has previously attacked another person or exhibited signs of aggression. Therefore, depending on your losses, you may have grounds to sue the dog’s owner no matter how minor your dog bite injury is. However, there are some exceptions to strict liability that you should be aware of:

  • You must have been lawfully on the property. Dog owners are not strictly liable to trespassers. 
  • Suspects cannot sue law enforcement for a police dog bite injury. Law enforcement can only be held strictly liable if an innocent bystander is bitten. 
  • If you are bitten by a dog being watched by a person that is not the owner, they cannot be held strictly liable but can be sued for negligence.
  • Veterinarians and kennel workers cannot sue dog owners for a dog bite injury since their employment comes with assumed risks but can sue the owners for negligence.

Additionally, dog owners are not liable when an individual sustains a dog bite injury because they were annoying, harassing, or provoking the pet.

The Dangers of Settling a Dog Bite Injury Claim Too Quickly

If you believe your dog bite injury is minor, there are still multiple risks in settling your claim too quickly. Understanding the full extent of your injury will take time. For example, let’s say you settle with the at-fault owner’s insurance company to cover the medical care you received immediately after the bite, a couple days of missed work, and a small amount for your pain and suffering. After several weeks, you are still in pain due to the bite, and you begin suffering from symptoms of PTSD, are unable to sleep, and miss more work. If you have already settled your claim, you will be unable to recover more compensation and will be responsible for paying these expenses out-of-pocket. 

How Much Is My Dog Bite Injury Case Worth? 

San diego dog bite lawyer

Since each case is unique, there is no exact “formula” to determine how much your dog bite injury is worth. However, the value of your case can be estimated with the assistance of a skilled attorney and after considering various factors, such as: 

  • The severity of your dog bite injury, its prognosis, and the expected length of recovery. 
  • Your age, occupation, past medical history, etc.
  • The extent to which your injury has impacted your future. 
  • The number of expenses incurred as a result of the dog bite injury, such as hospital and medical bills, rehabilitation costs, prescription drug costs, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. 
  • Whether you will require future medical care. 
  • The physical pain and suffering you have and are experiencing, and any emotional distress (e.g., PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc.).
  • Whether you were at fault.  
  • The dog owner’s insurance policy limits. 

Any dog bite injury case requires detailed documentation to be successful. Victims should always keep a diary or notes about their daily pain, symptoms, and any limitations.

Speak to a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

If you have suffered a dog bite injury, no matter how minor, schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case with a San Diego dog bite attorney