Should you sue a dog owner for personal injury?

Should you sue a dog owner for personal injury?

If you’ve been bitten or injured in any way by another individual’s dog, the dog’s owner can be held liable for any of the damages resulting from the incident.  Damages could include the following costs:

  • Medical Bills
  • Expected medical costs in the future
  • Lost wages
  • Permanent scarring
  • Permanent disability
  • Rehabilitation

Because dog bites are distressing events that often leave a person with psychological after-effects, you may also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.  

In order to receive compensation for your injuries, you can file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. However, the extent of the owner’s liability and what you’ll need to prove in court varies from one state to another. California’s dog bite law states that the owner of any dog is liable for damages if:

  • The damages were caused by a dog bite, and
  • The person bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place

This statute only applies to injuries resulting from dog bites, not by other behaviors on the part of a dog that result in injuries. For example, if you are knocked down by a dog and injured as a result, California’s negligence rules would apply, the argument being that the dog’s owner failed to “take reasonable steps” to secure his or her animal.

California is a “strict liability” state for dog bites, meaning that an owner can’t escape liability for a dog bite using such claims as they didn’t know that their dog would act aggressively or that the dog had never bitten anyone before this incident. 

However, you’ll need to prove liability, if you’re suing a dog owner for personal injury in cases involving other behaviors of the dog that resulted in your injuries.

Your story

Dog bite cases are fairly straightforward vs other personal injury lawsuits. But, even so, you’ll still want to gather evidence to support your claim such as pictures of the scene of the attack and your injuries as well as statements from witnesses and filed incident reports. This becomes important in cases involving negligence on the part of the owner: for example, the owner allowed their dog off the leash, the dog then knocked a person down, and injured that person.

In dog bite cases the dog owner may use the defense of “trespassing” against your claim. An injured person who was trespassing on the property of the owner when the incident occurred may not be able to collect damages.

Another possible defense used in these types of cases is that bitten person was provoking the dog at the time of the attack. California’s dog bite law specifically allows provocation as a defense for liability in a dog bite claim.  If you provoked the dog and the owners can prove that, you may not be eligible for compensation.

Your solution

If you want to sue a dog owner for personal injury, you’ll want to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case.  Attorney Gregory Yates, personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, is skilled at handling dog bite cases as well as cases in which negligence was involved on the part of the owner. 

Contact our firm to set up your initial consultation.