Liability for Dog Bites or Attacks

Can You Sue a Dog Owner for Your Injuries?

Dog bite injury Dog bites can be very serious depending on the size and power of the dog’s jaws and how long they hold on for. Dogs often snap to protect themselves or display dominance, but they can also sink their teeth into your arm and not let go, depending on how threatened they feel. Dog bites vary greatly in severity. Rottweilers have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom, carrying an impressive bite force of 328 pounds. A bite from a rottweiler can break a bone while a bite from a Yorkshire terrier may just barely break the skin. However, even small dogs can inflict damage if they are biting the soft skin of a child or attacking in a pack. Just this year, an Alabama man sustained life-threatening injuries from a pack of dogs who escaped their enclosure. It’s not uncommon for personal injury lawsuits to become wrongful death lawsuits when injuries are fatal. A personal injury attorney in Newport Beach can tell you horror stories about the wounds from dog attacks that their clients suffer. While dogs can be man’s best friend, things can easily take a turn for the worst. Dog language is different than human language, so while you may be showing signs of friendliness, the dog can interpret it as anything but. Looming over a dog or hugging it can be signs of trying to establish dominance, and this may spark a reaction from the dog to stand its ground. Most dogs warn before they bite, but it’s important to understand the warning signs before it’s too late. Before a dog bites, it may:
  • Growl or snap
  • Flatten its ears
  • Bristle the fur on its back
  • Cower and tuck its tail
  • Stand rigid but wag its tail
It’s important to look out for this kind of body language when you are near a dog. If you feel unsafe around a dog, it’s best to put distance between the two of you. However, you should never run or scream, as this can activate the dog’s predatory instinct. In the wild, prey animals run and make high-pitched noises, so it’s possible the dog could get more confused.

Common Situations Where Dogs Attack

Common situations where a dog may bite someone include when you are visiting the owner’s property. Since the dog lives there, it may feel the need to display dominance, which can progress into biting. If you were injured on someone else’s property, you should hire a Newport Beach accident injury attorney. They can help you show that they are liable for maintaining a safe environment for visitors.

Is a property owner liable if their guard dog bites you when you’re trespassing? Many people get dogs for protection against burglars. Even a small dog that won’t stand a chance in physical combat against a trespasser can bark, alerting the owner and/or scaring off the trespassing person. If you were on someone’s property uninvited, premises liability changes. Trespassers are not entitled to the same level of care and protection that guests are, so it’s likely that your dog bite injuries won’t be paid for by the dog owner.

Dogs often bite joggers, cyclists, and motorcyclists that pass by them because they resemble prey. The chase may be exciting to the dog, but you should never slow down. Try not to pay attention to it, as it may just run at you and quit once it realizes it’s not worth the energy. If you are a cyclist who was attacked by a dog and pulled off your bicycle, you can try to use the bicycle as a shield between you and the dog. Many Newport Beach dog bite attorneys will advise joggers and cyclists to carry pepper spray should they be attacked.

Ask any postal worker or delivery driver and they will tell you that they encounter territorial dogs on a regular basis. Walking up to someone’s house and delivering a package can be threatening to a dog even though you’re just doing your job. If you were bitten by someone’s dog while on the job, then you may need to talk to your employer about filling out a worker’s compensation form. Worker’s compensation should cover any expenses resulting from the dog attack, eliminating the need to file a dog bite injury lawsuit in California.

Establishing Liability in California

California takes dog bite cases very seriously. The state follows the doctrine of strict liability, meaning dog owners can be held accountable for damage and injuries their pets cause in almost all cases. As long as you and your Newport Beach dog bite lawyer can prove that you did not provoke the dog in any way, you can be compensated for your injuries.

As we already mentioned, friendly gestures such as embracing a dog can be interpreted as threatening, but California courts will not consider this provoking the animal. Examples of provoking a dog into biting you will be continuing to taunt, aggravate, poke, or hurt a dog after it has displayed clear signals that it is irritated.

The California law of strict liability means that dog owners are liable for all dog bites, regardless of how many times the dog has bitten before. The doctrine states “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place … regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

Your Newport Beach accident injury attorney will tell you that the owner must pay for your medical bills and other damages. Under the strict liability law, the owner is still liable if they had no idea their pet could act aggressively. Even if you are the first person the dog has ever bitten in its life, the owner is still responsible for all damages resulting from the bite.

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
  • Dog attack
  • Construction 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