Statistics show that dogs have become a part of the average family in the United States. There are approximately 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States, with Californians owning the most dogs in the country. Unfortunately, not all dog owners treat their dogs well, leading to the dogs becoming aggressive. Some dogs do not even need mistreatment to become aggressive, their temperament may also be a contributing factor.

California has a "strict liability rule" for dog bites that allows victims to claim compensation when they are attacked. If you or a loved one recently sustained injuries due to a dog bite attack in the South Bay area, our dog bite attorneys at Sullivan & Sullivan can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Please call our offices at 310-870-0369 to schedule a free consultation.

California's Dog Bite Rule

California’s dog bite statute, California Civil Code Section 3342, makes dog owners liable for injuries sustained when their pets attack someone – even if the owner was not negligent. Some states have a “one-bite rule” that gives dog owners a pass the first time their pets attack someone. 

California is not one of these states. If a dog attacks someone, the owner is liable for the attack, whether or not they had prior knowledge of their dog's propensity to attack. Additionally, the dog bite victim is under no obligation to prove negligence on the dog owner's part.

However, some conditions must be met before a person can claim compensation in a dog bite attack under the strict liability rule.

  • The dog attacked the person in a public place
  • The dog attacked the victim on private grounds, but they were legally on the premises, i.e. they were not trespassing or committing a crime on the property
  • The dog was not a police or military dog
  • The victim did not provoke the dog into attacking them

Injuries From Dog Bites

While dog bites have varying ranges of severity, it is best to take every dog bite attack seriously. As long as your skin broke open either from the dog’s teeth or however the dog attack happened, you would do well to take it seriously. Dog bites can potentially lead to rabies – although it is a rare result of a dog bite in California – as rabies is mostly found in wild animals, such as bats, raccoons, skunks, etc.

Apart from rabies, other injuries from dog bites are:

  • Scarring and disfigurement, requiring facial reconstruction, skin grafting, or plastic surgery
  • Nerve, muscles, tissues, ligaments and bone damage
  • Bacterial infections, leading to sepsis, tetanus, meningitis, Capnocytophaga, fevers and pneumonia
  • Psychological trauma, requiring medical help to recover from
  • Lacerations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Death in serious cases

What to Do After a Dog Bite Attack

Get medical help: Your safety is of paramount importance. After a dog bite attack, the first thing you should do is clean the wound thoroughly. You can either do this yourself or get medical help as quickly as possible. Do not downplay the severity of the attack, as even if the wound does not appear serious on the surface, things can progress if you do not treat it properly.

Keep a record of the attack: Keeping a record will provide accurate evidence of all that happened so that you do not have to rely merely on your recollection of events when you make a claim. So be sure to take pictures of the wound, keep copies of the record of the treatment you received and their attendant costs. 

Hire a dog bite injury attorney: Our dog bite injury attorneys at Sullivan & Sullivan are highly skilled in advocating for compensation for our clients who have been injured in dog bite attacks. If you or a loved one has been bitten or injured by a dog or other pet, please call our South Bay law offices today at 310-870-0369 for a free initial consultation.

Statute of Limitations in Dog Bite Attacks

The statute of limitations is the period during which you can legally file a claim. It is also known as a “grace period,” and once it passes, you no longer have the legal right to file a claim. In California, the statute of limitations for dog bites is two years, as with other types of personal injury claims. The two years start counting from the date you sustained the injury.

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