San Diego Dog Bite Attorney


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They say dogs are man’s best friend, and, for the most part, canines live up to this reputation. However, dogs are also prone to misunderstandings, such as interpreting non-aggressive human behavior as a threat. But, as San Diego dog bite lawyers know, these misinterpretations lead to biting. When these unfortunate incidents occur, victims suffer from serious wounds that sometimes never heal.

Dog owners are responsible for preventing their animals from attacking innocent people, California law holds dog owners liable regardless of whether a dog has bitten a person.

Since the law presumes negligence on the owner’s part, plaintiffs need not demonstrate any particular action or inaction on the defendant’s part. For example, they allow the dog to escape a yard through a hole in the fence.

In some instances, the owner may have engaged in egregious behavior, justifying an award for punitive damages.

For instance, an owner who trains dogs for illegal fighting has intentionally made the animal aggressive and prone to bite. For example, the court may award punitive damages if a dog injures someone because the owner trained it to bite.

Do I Need a San Diego Dog Bite Lawyer for a Dog Bite Claim?

If you have sustained a severe dog bite injury, you need a personal injury lawyer to win the settlement or award you deserve.

While the law holds dog owners responsible with few exceptions, this presumption of negligence does not mean you automatically win or receive a fair settlement.

Firstly, you must prove your claim. To do this, you need evidence that a dog owned by the defendant caused your injury. Then, your injury attorney gathers the evidence needed to establish this essential case element.

Secondly, you must overcome any affirmative defenses.

An affirmative defense in a dog bite case often concerns whether someone provoked the dog. For instance, the defense could claim that you antagonized the animal. Though this may be the furthest thing from the truth, there are cases where defendants lie to give themselves a defense.

Thirdly, the settlement amount depends upon the strength of your negotiating position. Under California law, your award can be reduced if the defense establishes you are partially at fault. A personal injury attorney assembles the evidence to counter these claims and demands 100% of the damages to which the law entitles you.

Finally, some cases must go to trial, such as when the defendant falsely claims provocation and refuses to settle. In this instance, you need an attorney to fight for your rights in court.

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Why Choose Shamon Law As Your Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers?

An injury can leave you with mounting medical expenses, lost income, and an inability to participate in your life fully. No accident victim should be left to fend for themselves.

Shamon law understands how important these cases are for our clients. Our experience includes going up against the big insurance companies and winning. We use our expertise to develop powerful cases, negotiate the best possible settlements, and win cases at trial.

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Common Causes of Dog Bites

Assuming a dog is not rabid or a trained fighting animal, dogs are not normally prone to biting people; however, as with humans, they do make mistakes. Proper training can significantly reduce the chances of a dog biting a person because of one of the following:

Fear

A scared dog feels threatened and may have the propensity to bite.

Startled

Startled dogs may forget their training and bite instinctively. Sleeping dogs are particularly dangerous if startled awake; hence the expression “let sleeping dogs lie.”

Guarding

Dogs are natural guards who may bite when their home, property, or owner is threatened. 

Frustration

As with some people, frustrated dogs may lash out.

Illness or Injury

When dogs suffer from an illness or injury, they feel vulnerable. It can make them defensive and cause them to act uncharacteristically aggressively.

Common Injuries Sustained from Dog Bites

Dog bite injuries range from minor cuts to severe lacerations to the tearing away body parts. Sustained dog attacks kill. The most common dog bite injuries include the following:

  • Punctures
  • Abrasions
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Lacerations
  • Crushing injuries
  • Avulsions (tearing away of parts of the body)
  • Nerve damage

These injuries lead to economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are the direct monetary cost of the injury, medical bills, lost income, and can collect other monetary damages.

Non-economic damages include the injury’s intangible but often horrific impacts, such as pain and suffering and the distress of disfigurement.

Eligible economic damages include the following:

  • Ambulance charges
  • ER bills
  • Diagnostic tests, such as x-rays
  • Intensive care
  • Hospital stays
  • Medications
  • Surgeries
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Lost income
  • Lost fringe benefits
  • Lost business revenue

Eligible non-economic damages include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive damages are awarded when defendants act egregiously beyond the standard definition of negligence. For instance, an owner who beats a dog to make it aggressive may be subject to punitive damages if the animal attacks an innocent person.

California Dog Bite Statistics

The average dog bite settlement in California is over $50,000. Dog bite settlements are large when they involve serious injuries with large medical bills. In addition, the victim may lose income, suffer tremendous pain, and experience emotional distress.

What Should I Do Immediately After a Dog Bite?

Your priority needs to be seeking medical attention.
Naturally, you need to receive emergency treatment for your injuries. But seeking medical attention also generates much of the evidence needed to prove your injury case.

To succeed in court, you must prove the injury occurred and link it to the dog bite. Medical records provide evidence for both of these elements. In addition, the reports indicate that the patient suffered a dog bite and document the injuries caused by the attack.

All subsequent treatment related to these injuries becomes compensable. Additionally, medical records help tie injuries to lost income. For instance, a person bitten in the hand who becomes disabled until the injury heals has a claim for all related lost income.

Also, medical records help build cases for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. For example, when jurors see the damage caused by the bite in medical records, they quickly become convinced of the pain and distress caused by the injuries.

California law requires the reporting of dog bites to the police. Doctors must also report treating dog bite injuries. Contacting 911 allows you to report the bite while requesting medical attention.

As with any personal injury case, you want to obtain the contact information of any witnesses and identify the responsible party. For example, reporting the incident to the police facilitates identifying witnesses, the dog, and its owner.

California Laws on Dog Bites

California has a strict liability standard in dog-bite cases. Under strict liability, dog owners bear liability for most dog bite injuries. The plaintiffs must prove that the dog bite occurred, but the defendant cannot evade liability by claiming he did not know the dog was dangerous or that he took reasonable precautions to protect the public.


However, to qualify under strict liability, the plaintiff must show that the dog bit him in a public place or while he was lawfully in a private place. For instance, a person bitten by a dog while walking on the sidewalk has a personal injury claim under strict liability.


Alternatively, a package delivery person bitten on private property while performing his duties also has a case under strict liability. Trespassers and other offenders who are bitten on private property have no claim under strict liability. The law also exempts owners and handlers of most police and military dogs when they bite someone engaged in unlawful conduct. For instance, a trespasser on a military base bitten by a guard dog likely has no legal claim.


In addition, a suspect running from the police who is bitten by a pursuing police dog likely has no legal claim. However, the owners of military and police dogs may have liability if their charges bite someone uninvolved in the crime. For example, if a police dog mistakenly bites a bystander during a pursuit, the government entity responsible for the dog may be found liable.


California law also shields dog owners if the animal bites a veterinarian or veterinarian assistant during treatment. A dog bite does not have to break the skin to trigger liability for the dog owner, but the plaintiff must establish that they have damages related to the bite. For example, a California court ruled that the owner was liable when his dog bit the plaintiff’s pants and pulled him off a ladder, injuring him. Though the bite broke no skin, the dog still bit and caused the injury.

California Laws on Dog Bites

California has a strict liability standard in dog-bite cases. Under strict liability, dog owners bear liability for most dog bite injuries. The plaintiffs must prove that the dog bite occurred, but the defendant cannot evade liability by claiming he did not know the dog was dangerous or that he took reasonable precautions to protect the public.

However, to qualify under strict liability, the plaintiff must show that the dog bit him in a public place or while he was lawfully in a private place. For instance, a person bitten by a dog while walking on the sidewalk has a personal injury claim under strict liability.
Alternatively, a package delivery person bitten on private property while performing his duties also has a case under strict liability.

Trespassers and other offenders who are bitten on private property have no claim under strict liability. The law also exempts owners and handlers of most police and military dogs when they bite someone engaged in unlawful conduct. For instance, a trespasser on a military base bitten by a guard dog likely has no legal claim.

In addition, a suspect running from the police who is bitten by a pursuing police dog likely has no legal claim. However, the owners of military and police dogs may have liability if their charges bite someone uninvolved in the crime. For example, if a police dog mistakenly bites a bystander during a pursuit, the government entity responsible for the dog may be found liable.

California law also shields dog owners if the animal bites a veterinarian or veterinarian assistant during treatment. A dog bite does not have to break the skin to trigger liability for the dog owner, but the plaintiff must establish that they have damages related to the bite. For example, a California court ruled that the owner was liable when his dog bit the plaintiff’s pants and pulled him off a ladder, injuring him. Though the bite broke no skin, the dog still bit and caused the injury.

Contact a Top-Rated San Diego, CA Dog Bite Attorney

Shamon Law’s San Diego dog bite lawyers pursue negligent owners and obtain the compensation their clients deserve.

San Diego Dog Bite FAQs

Yes. Owners bear responsibility for dog bites in most cases.

California law holds dog owners strictly liable when their animal injures an innocent party. It does not matter if the dog has never been bitten before or is in control; therefore, the owner is responsible for all bites.

However, a few exceptions exist, including the following:

  • No liability for bites to trespassers
  • No liability for bites to burglars
  • No liability when the dog is defending a person from an attack
  • No liability for fleeing suspects bitten by police dogs
  • No liability if the dog is provoked

Victims can identify the owner in most cases. However, sometimes pedestrians are bitten by loose dogs. If this happens to you, take the following steps to help identify who owns the dog:

  • Make a mental note of the dog’s color, breed, markings, and any other identifying features
  • If possible, take a picture of the dog with your cell phone
  • Contact authorities right away. They may be able to find and identify the dog and owner
  • Check with neighbors and witnesses to see if they know who owns the dog

Provided you were on the property legally, you are entitled to damages. California dog bite laws are based on strict liability. The owner is always responsible.

However, you may be unable to recover if you were on the property illegally.

For instance, someone delivering a package is on the property legally and entitled to damages from a dog bite.

On the other hand, someone trying to steal a package from a doorstep has no claim if bitten by a dog residing there.

The owner is always accountable for a dog bite. However, the following exceptions apply:

  • The dog bit someone who was on their property illegally
  • The dog bit someone engaged in an attack on another person
  • Someone provoked the dog
  • The dog was attacked
  • The dog is a police dog and was performing its duties (unless it bites a bystander or other innocent party)

Children aged 5 to 9 suffer the most dog bites.

In addition, children are the victims in 80% of fatal dog bite cases.

A child has a much more limited ability to fend off a dog attack. In addition, they are smaller and more vulnerable to injuries. Worse, vicious dogs may view them as easy targets.

You have the right to compensation if your child has suffered a dog bite. For example, a dog should never injure a child.

Personal injury cases take an average of one- to two years to settle. Trial cases can take three or more years, but most cases settle out of court.

California law requires plaintiffs to file personal injury claims within two years of the incident, with few exceptions.

California dog bite settlements average about $50,000.

However, this is the mean average, and the value of any individual claim can be far higher or lower. For example, slight injury cases may settle for a lot less. On the other hand, severe injuries can be worth six, seven, or eight figures.

Dog bite attorneys in San Diego work on contingency.

Contingency fee agreements require clients to pay nothing upfront or out of pocket. You can pay if you collect.

Contingency fee agreements allow plaintiffs to litigate their claims without experiencing financial distress due to mounting legal fees.

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