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Dog Bites

What To Do If You Suffered a Dog Bite Injury in California

Many people are surprised to discover that California has one of the highest rates of dog bit injuries and deaths related to dog attacks in the entire country. For example, in 2019, approximately 48 dog attacks led to the death of an individual, according to  This number may seem relatively small, but it means the state of California had the most dog bite-related deaths in the United States in 2019.

If you were bitten by a dog and suffered a serious injury, you probably have important questions that  need to be answered, such as:

  • Who is responsible for paying all of the out-of-pocket expenses related to treating the dog bite injury?
  • The injury is forcing me to miss a significant amount of time from work. Will I be able to recover my lost income?
  • My injury is serious and may lead to permanent damage. What can I do if I am forced to stop working or change professions due to the dog bite injury?

These are important questions that warrant an answer. This article is focused on clarifying what you can do in the wake of a serious dog bite incident.

Legal Standard for Dog Bite Injuries in California

California has a “strict liability” statute that addresses the legal ramifications for when a dog bites and harms an individual. The legal term “strict liability” basically means that the owner of the dog is responsible for the actions of their pet, even if the dog did not show any previous signs of aggression or violence. Specifically, Civil Code Section 3342 states the following:

“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 or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.”

Exceptions to the Strict Liability Standard

There are generally two exceptions to the state's strict liability standard. The first exception is if there is evidence that the dog attack was prompted by an individual engaging in cruelty toward the animal. The second exception is when a dog bites someone who was committing a crime or trespassing on someone else's property.

Injuries from a Dog Bite

Dog bite injuries can be quite serious, depending on the specific circumstances related to your attack. For some people, a dog bite may simply result in minor bruising and shallow puncture marks. However, there are instances where a dog attack can lead to life-threatening wounds and long-term damage. For example, a serious dog bite can lead to scarring and/or nerve damage. If you find yourself in this situation, you could be staring at thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost income.

Pursuing Financial Restitution for Your Harms and Losses

If you were bitten by a dog and you know the owner of the animal, you could file a claim against the homeowners' insurance policy of the dog owner. If it turns out the dog owner is a renter or lacks any insurance coverage, do not give up hope. You could still try to hold the property owner liable for allowing a dangerous dog to live on their premises.

Have Questions About Your Legal Rights After a Dig Bite Injury? Contact The Geller Firm Today

If you were bitten by a dog and suffered a serious injury, now is the time for action. You owe it to yourself to hold the dog owner accountable and to pursue financial restitution for your harms and losses. Contact The Geller Firm to discuss your legal options today. We are available for virtual and in-person consultations. Our law firm serves San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, San Rafael, Palo Alto and the surrounding areas. Contact us today at 415-840-0570 to schedule an appointment.