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If I am bit by a dog and prove negligence can the negligence factor override the cap on the dog bite? I was in the hospital for

North Hollywood, CA |
Attorney answers 13


It is not clear what you're asking. What is clear is that you were seriously injured. You really need to retain a lawyer. The initial consultation should be free, and you won't be responsible for paying any fees out-of-pocket; they'll be a portion of the recovery.


If you are talking about a $10K cap for med pay, then yes you can sue for your injury and collect medical bills, lost income pain and suffering and other damages.

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On dog bite cases you normally need not prove negligence. If a dog bites you and you are lawfully where you are supposed to be then the owner of the dog is liable. There is no cap on damages you can recover on a dog bite case. You need to contact a local AVVO rated and CAALA member attorney who has experience on these cases. There are other issues that may arise in these types of cases but an attorney can easily address those issues in your initial consultation.

John Nojima


I believe the "cap" that you are referring to is the small claims maximum recovery. However, if you were seriously injured as a result of a dog bite, you should file a civil lawsuit, rather than small claims (which does not have a $10,000 cap).

If you were in the hospital for 3 days and had surgery, you should contact a personal injury attorney that can discuss your case and represent you in a civil lawsuit against the owner of the dog (assuming that you can identify them). Given how high your medical bills are, you will want to discuss the facts of what happened with a lawyer to ensure that you are properly represented and compensated for your injuries.

Hillary Jones

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In CA, a dog bite is considered "strict liability" so you do not have to prove negligence. If a dog bites you, the dog's owner is responsible. The next question is does the dog's owner have insurance (renter's insurance or homeowner's insurance). There is no such thing as $10,000 cap on damages. (Unless you mean a cap on damages for filing a case in small claims court.)

I suggest you contact an attorney to discuss your case. It will be worth your time.


You can file a court in superior court, there is no $10,000 cap on damages. And a dog bite would be strict liability, there is no negligence necessary. A full consultation would be necessary to properly advise you.


Owners of dogs are strictly liable for bites from their dog. You do not need to prove negligence in CA. There is no cap on damages, although that may be the maximum amount of available medical payments or liability coverage. That would be a surprise, however, if the owner has a California homeowner's insurance policy. It appears you have not consulted legal counsel. You should. Your case has substantial value given your specials.

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The 10k cap is small claims. You should hire an atty given the damages you have. If the owner of the dog has no ins and is a tenant, it can be very difficult to try to nail the property owner for the tenant's dog. It will need investigation to see if there is evidence that the Landlord/owner had knowledge before you were bitten that the dog had dangerous propensities. You don't say how this occurred. if the dog was in the yard, but the fence had a hole so he got out, then the owner could be liable for lack of proper maintenance.


Pooches in California do not get one free bite and their owners are strictly liable for their bites. Thus, man's best friend can get man in trouble should said BFF bite someone. Thus, should someone be bit by another's dog, the most important legal issue will be the amount of physical harm caused... and $34,000 in medical bills is a pretty good indicator that someone has been really hurt and "hurt bad." Thus, someone who is bit by another's dog should consult with a personal injury lawyer to investigate how one can get fully compensated for one's injuries.

Also, for all practical purposes, the only limits to recovery from a dog bite are the amount awarded by the jury and the ability to actually recover - so, factors that need to be examined are whether the dog owner has insurance and/or assets.

- Paul

Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician

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You've got a six-figure case. Why are you concerned about $10K cap? I think you're referring to the small claims court cap, yes?


What cap are you talking about? Insurance?


Then don't take it to small claims court, get a personal injury lawyer.


You do NOT need to prove negligence in California to win a dog bite case. It is unclear what you mean by the "cap." Typically, the insurance polices that cover dog bites (such as homeowners policies) have limits MUCH higher than $10,000. I recommend that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer and go from there.

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