What Should I Do if Someone is Suing Me Over a Dog Bite?

Legal Defenses for Dog Owners in Dog Bite Lawsuits

Dog bite injury Dog bites can range in severity, and someone who is injured enough to require medical attention may seek compensation for their bills. In some cases, victims will sue for emotional damages and time that had to be taken off work. Depending on how the court views your dog, they may order it to be euthanized.

In the event that your dog bites someone, you should consult with a personal injury attorney in Newport Beach. They can help you examine the event and provide the best defense strategy so that you and your dog stay safe and secure.

About Dog Bites

A dog’s relationship and behavior towards its owner can differ greatly from the way they act towards strangers, especially dependent on the breed. While golden retrievers and poodles are generally friendly towards everyone, other breeds like chow chows and rottweilers are suspicious of strangers. 

However, even the friendliest of dog breeds can lash out due to pain, fear, anxiety, arousal. The most common reasons dogs bite are:

  • Dogs bite to release tension when they are in a stressful situation
  • Dogs bite when they feel scared or threatened
  • Dogs bite to protect themselves, their puppies, or their owners
  • Dogs bite when they’re startled
  • Dogs can nip or bite during playtime, especially if they did not have enough dog-to-dog playtime as puppies and do not know how rough is too rough 

It may surprise owners that millions of Americans are bitten by dogs each year. They may find it even more surprising that the majority of dog bites occur in people’s homes. In fact, 61% of dog bites occur in the dog’s home or a familiar place, and 77% of bite victims are the owner’s family members or friends. Stray dogs constitute a very small percentage of bites, so it’s often domesticated pets who bite people. 

Since you are their owner, you are responsible for whatever damages your pets incur on others, whether it’s a nasty flesh wound or property damage.

Dog Bite Defenses

While owners may be shocked at the fact their beloved pet bit someone, the bite is perfectly justifiable in the dog’s eyes. While the dog may have felt scared, anxious, or overly excited, this excuse will not hold up in court. 

While the bite victim may be Googling “how much can you get in a dog bite lawsuit,” you should prepare by hiring Newport Beach dog bite attorneys. Meeting with a defense lawyer for dog bites in Los Angeles will give you a good idea of what to argue in court. You will need to prove that the victim is fully liable for their own injuries because that will absolve you from giving them compensation.

The best defenses for a dog bite lawsuit in Los Angeles are:

  • The dog was provoked by the victim
  • The victim knew the risk 
  • The victim was trespassing at the time of the attack
  • The victim was careless or negligent

If the Dog Was Provoked

If the victim provoked the dog into biting by hitting or teasing it, the courts will almost surely find them liable since many people know that biting is an animal’s way of defending itself against harm. 

But what about actions that aren’t so obviously provocative? The court will consider placing liability on the victim if:

  • The victim accidentally stepped on the dog’s tail or paw 
  • The victim approached and touched the dog when it was eating or chained up
  • The victim intervened in a dog fight and was bitten as a result
  • The victim sprayed the dog with repellant

Previous Knowledge of Risk 

If the injured party was aware of a risk of injury but voluntarily took that risk anyway, then the courts might find them liable for their injuries. For example, a “Beware of Dog” sign often protects an owner from responsibility in the attack.

This rule comes into play when veterinarians, groomers, pet sitters, and kennel operators are bitten while on the job. In California, the assumption-of-risk defense relieves owners of liability when the injured party voluntarily accepted the risk of getting hurt by an animal by taking care of it or treating it for injuries.


Many people get dogs because they can serve as guard dogs to protect them and their belongings from robbers. When a stranger enters the owner’s property, dogs will bark, but they sometimes bite if they feel threatened enough. If the injured party was trespassing or unlawfully on private property, most states’ dog-bite laws don’t apply.

Negligence on Behalf of the Injured Party

When the victims’ own carelessness contributed to their injuries, the courts may limit the amount of compensation the owner has to provide. The California courts abide by the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, which means each party pays an amount directly equal to the negligence they showed. For example, if the owner was 20% negligent because they failed to discipline their rambunctious pet, then they would have to pay 20% of the damages.

About Accident Lawyers Firm

Accident Lawyers Firm is a Newport Beach-based law firm that wins our clients maximum compensation for their personal injury lawsuits. Our attorneys work tirelessly to add up your bodily damages, emotional damages, property damages, and overall pain and suffering that the negligent party should pay for. We also tap into our network of accident and health experts to gather thorough research and evidence to make your case for compensation as strong as possible. Contact us if you were injured in a: 

  • Car accident 
  • Motorcycle accident 
  • Bike accident 
  • Rideshare accident 
  • Workplace accident 

You don’t need additional stress while you recover from your injuries, so leave the legal battle up to us. With our extensive connections and hard-working lawyers, you can focus on recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally. To set up a free consultation, call us at 949-203-5780 or email us at intake@accidentlawyersfirm.com.