When You Can Sue for a Dog Attack

Dog Bite Lawsuits in California

Dogs are the most popular pet in the country, and almost everyone can see why. Their wagging tails, loyal dispositions, and affinity for pets make most of them a positive addition to your walk or jog.

However, this loyal and protective disposition must be accompanied by training and socialization when they are puppies. Or else, they can act aggressively towards those they don’t know well or those who they think are encroaching on their territory.

Dog bite victims are often those who meant no harm but whose actions were misinterpreted by dogs. Their minds work differently, and they can often injure those who are doing their jobs such as mailmen, construction workers, repairmen, or policemen. Joggers and bikers are also common victims.

When someone comes knocking on a door or getting near a yard, this is seen as aggressive action to a dog’s mentality, and it’s up to the owner to train them not to think that way.

When the owner fails to take their dog’s behavior seriously, they are being negligent. This is a tragedy, as many dogs our dog bite injury lawyers deal with have shown aggression multiple times before attacking.

When a dog bares its teeth or lunges at someone, this should be taken seriously, even when they don’t end up making contact with a person’s skin. If you were bitten by a dog and have evidence that they have shown aggression before, then you should absolutely hold the owner accountable. Even in cases where this is the first time the dog has acted out, California’s strict liability laws for dog bites make it so they can be the subject of a dog attack lawsuit.


Damages are what you sue for in a dog bite lawsuit. The damages either cost you money out of pocket (compensatory damages) or they bear a intangible burden that the defendant should give you compensation for (non-compensatory damages).

When you are injured in a dog attack, you should try to keep track of your medical bills and time spent off work. You should also keep a diary of your physical and emotional issues following the accident, as this is essential to obtain additional compensation for pain and suffering (non-compensatory damage).

For Injuries Under $10,000

If you’re keeping track of your injuries and find that they add up to less than $10,000, then you can seek compensation in small claims court. Small claims court is available to the general public when they’ve been wronged and the defendant isn’t willing to work out payment out of court.

In small claims court, you represent yourself, so it’s up to you to add up your damages, research dog bite claims, and prepare a worthy argument so that you get the settlement you deserve. This often requires people to take time away from work and other obligations.

In some cases, people prefer to hire an injury lawyer.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

In personal injury lawsuits where someone’s negligence has contributed to a serious loss, you may need to hire an attorney to handle your case. You may think attorneys are just for car wrecks, but they can handle situations where someone’s negligence has contributed to your injury. An attorney for dog attacks will understand the legal process and how to get the biggest settlement from an injury lawsuit.

A lawyer will know about damages you can claim and strategies you can use in order to greatly increase your settlement size. Depending on the severity of the attack, you can get tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in your settlement.

If a dog attack required medical attention and follow-up visits with a doctor, you should file for compensation. Contact Accident Lawyers Firm for a free case review with a lawyer for dog bites. Don’t wait, as you might miss out on your chance for compensation.

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.