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Dog Bite Damages in California

Posted by attorney Gary Moorhead

Most Americans own pets, and most of those pets are dogs. Dogs are like family to most people, and like most families, most are good, but some are not so good, particularly to strangers. Victims of dog attacks and severe bites know all too well the pain and disfigurement a dog bite can cause. Large dogs can and often do inflict severe wounds that lead to plastic surgery, infections, scarring and reams of medical bills. Small dogs also inflict serious injury and in some cases bite small but cause falls that fracture legs, arms and wrists. California law codifies a dog owner's responsibility for bites, or injuries resulting from bites, and long ago wiped out the 'one free- bite' defense to an owner's claim of negligence in such situations. However, expert legal representation is essential to properly allocate responsibility in most cases. Ownership of the dog is often an issue, as well as the extent of 'strict liability' attaching to a bite. Once ownership liability is established, dog bite victims are entitled to recovery of economic damages for medical bills, lost income, and all other "out-of pocket" damages associated with the injury. Victims are also entitled to "non-economic" damages for pain and suffering, scarring & emotional distress.

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