Personal Injury Law Blog

Average Dog Bite Settlement in California

Unfortunately, dog bites occur frequently in California. In fact, California led the nation in dog bites last year with over 2,103 bites recorded in 2020. Animal bites were only behind falls and being struck by an object for the leading cause of non-fatal injury in children aged 0-9. Those bitten by dogs understand that it’s not just physical injuries that result from a bite. Being attacked by a dog carries a heavy emotional toll, as well. 

So what should you do if you’ve been bitten by a dog? If you’re wondering about the average dog bite settlement in California, it may be time to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.

What Is the Law Governing California Dog Bite Settlements? 

California Civil Code Section 3342 governs dog bites in California. The law provides that dog owners are strictly liable for dog bites. Unless provoked, if a dog bites someone, the dog’s owner is 100% responsible for any resulting injury. 

Strict liability provides that regardless of whether their dog ever showed signs of aggression, an owner is still responsible for any injuries caused by their dog. Exceptions to the strict liability rule include the following:

  • The victim trespassed, 
  • The dog was a law enforcement canine,
  • The victim was partly at fault, or 
  • The victim assumed the risk.

No matter how serious or minor the injury resulting from a dog bite, California law permits you to pursue a lawsuit.

What Factors Affect an Average Dog Bite Settlement 

While many wonder about average dog bite settlement amounts, the truth is that there is no average. Various factors can affect your dog bite settlement in California. Your personal injury attorney works to weigh these factors to determine how much your individual case is truly worth. 

Severity of Injuries 

Dog bite injuries range from mild to serious. Details to consider when evaluating your injuries include the following:

  • Whether the dog bit through the skin,
  • The extent of blood loss, 
  • Whether dog transmitted a disease, 
  • Any resulting permanent injuries, 
  • The nature of the attack, 
  • Where you were bitten, 
  • The dog breed, and
  • If the dog has a history of aggression.

If you suffered severe injuries, your settlement may be higher than the average dog bite settlement in California. If your injuries were minor, your claim will be worth less. Your attorney evaluates these factors to understand the severity of your injuries.  

Victim’s Age

The age of the dog bite victim is often relevant in dog bite cases. For example, because adults typically understand the consequences of teasing a dog, they usually do not engage in this behavior. Adults also are in a better position to defend themselves in the event a dog bites them. Alternatively, children are usually defenseless against an aggressive animal. Children may also be more likely to suffer long-term effects after a dog bite including physical and emotional injuries. For this reason, young children generally recover more in a dog bite insurance claims settlement. 

Long-Term Effects

Dog bites can cause long-term physical injuries. For example, if you were viciously bit in the face, the resulting injuries may change your physical features. Living with this type of injury may detrimentally affect your quality of life. 

Physical injuries are not the only consequence of dog bites. Many also suffer emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder. Whenever someone encounters a dog, it may cause a devastating emotional episode. Given the number of people who own dogs in California, these encounters have the potential to negatively affect your day-to-day activities.

How Can You Maximize Your Dog Bite Settlement Amount? 

You can maximize your dog bite settlement by undertaking the following actions: 

  • Obtaining complete medical care for your injuries, 
  • Identifying the dog that bit you and the dog owner, 
  • Reporting the dog to Animal Control, 
  • Photographing your injuries, and 
  • Seeking psychological counseling for any emotional distress. 

It’s crucial to document and retain all information related to your dog bite. Preservation of this evidence supports your claim for recovery against the dog owner. 

Additionally, hiring a personal injury attorney in your dog bite case significantly increases your potential dog bite settlement. Insurance companies will use your lack of legal representation against you and push you to settle for a minimal offer. You deserve to recover what you need after a dog bite. 

What Damages Can I Recover in California Dog Bite Settlements?

California permits the recovery of two types of damages after a dog bite: compensatory damages and punitive damages.  

Compensatory damages compensate the victim for their pain and loss and are broken down further into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible losses such as:

  • Medical expenses, 
  • Lost wages, and
  • Reduced earning capacity.

Your attorney can help you prove your economic damages through medical bills, receipts, pay stubs, and other proof.

Non-economic damages address intangible losses, such as:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Emotional distress, 
  • Lost of quality of life,
  • Humiliation, and
  • Disfigurement.

There is no way to put a definitive dollar amount on non-economic damages like emotional distress following a dog bite. However, your personal injury attorney can prove the amount of your non-economic damages by painting a picture of events through your eyes or providing psychological proof of your emotional trauma. 

Contact Us 

Attorneys Joshua Glotzer and Daniel Lieb of Glotzer & Lieb, LLP, provide accident victims with exceptional legal representation in Southern California. You deserve high-quality answers to your high-quality questions regarding California dog bite settlements. Enduring a dog bite is a traumatic experience only compounded by devastating physical injuries.

Our main goal at Glotzer & Lieb, LLP, is to enable you to focus on your recovery while we work on securing the compensation you need to move forward. Contact us today for a free case consultation and case evaluation. We even provide virtual consultations that are 100% confidential.

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