Dog Bites and Attacks

California Dog Bite and Attacks 

In California, we love our dogs. So much so that Californians, and especially Angelenos, bring their dogs to every indoor mall, restaurant, worksite, friends' homes and theme parks. These days, it seems like everyone has one if not more than one dog. That's wonderful when the dog is well behaved and well trained, but not every California dog owner is responsible. When large dogs are left untrained and uncontrolled, they can revert to their natural predatory instincts, sometimes with tragic results. Each year, it is The American Veterinary Association estimates that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs and 20% of those bites require medical attention.

Dog bite injuries have killed people, especially children. They can also leave victims with massive skin damage, broken bones, blood loss, damage to organs and sometimes serious infections. If you have suffered from these injuries, a qualified California dog bite attorney at Miller Wilmers APC knows how to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our firm for a free consultation

A dog bite lawsuit may appear straightforward at first, but these legal matters can quickly escalate into complicated litigation battles that can take months or even years to resolve. Hiring the right California dog bite lawyer can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of a dog bite injury case, and the legal team at Miller Wilmers APC is here to help anyone in this situation. 

Compensation for Dog Bites and Attacks in California 

The damages available to a plaintiff in a dog bite lawsuit are generally the same available in other personal injury claims. First, the plaintiff can receive economic damages for the direct financial impact of an injury. For example, the plaintiff in a dog bite case can claim compensation for his or her medical expenses resulting from the accident. This can include immediate costs like hospital bills as well as long-term medical costs for physical therapy and other types of rehabilitation.

Other economic damages available in a canine bite injury lawsuit can include lost wages if the plaintiff had to miss work to recover from the attack. If the attack also damaged or destroyed any of the plaintiff's personal belongings, such as an expensive watch, designer handbag, or smartphone, the plaintiff can claim the costs of replacing or repairing these items as economic damages in a personal injury case.

Plaintiffs can also receive non-economic damages for things like physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish after a dog attack. The jury reviewing the lawsuit will assess the plaintiff's claimed damages and consider expert witness testimony to determine an acceptable amount of compensation for pain and suffering.

Some courts may multiply the plaintiff's medical expenses by a certain amount, usually two to five, and award a lump sum as pain and suffering compensation. Others may use a “per diem” system that awards a set amount of compensation for every day the victim spends in recovery until he or she reaches maximum medical improvement. For more information regarding the damages available in your specific case, speak with an attorney knowledgeable in these types of attacks. 

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites In California

If a dog attack victim wishes to take legal action for his or her injury, he or she must meet the state's statute of limitations. This time limit for filing personal injury claims starts on the date of the injury and lasts two years. The plaintiff must file a formal complaint within that time limit or risk losing the right to recovery.

Common Dog Bite Injuries 

A bite is only one possible injury that can result from a dog attack. Dogs can also cause severe cuts and scratches from their claws, and a large dog may knock a person to the ground, potentially causing broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, facial injuries, and internal organ damage. Bites alone are also very serious. A dog's bite may not fully penetrate the skin, but the strength of the dog's jaws can lead to severe puncture wounds, crushing injuries, nerve damage, and blood loss.

Some dogs that bite aggressively will shake their heads violently as a reflex; this is what a hunting dog would do to prey to immobilize it once the dog has its teeth on the animal. When a dog forcefully bites a person and thrashes, the skin around the bite can tear, causing severe bleeding, soft tissue damage, and ruptured muscle tissue. Some dogs carry infectious diseases which can cause severe illness and long-term medical complications for victims.

A dog attack can be psychologically damaging as well. A person who experiences a severe dog attack may experience nightmares, flashbacks, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after such an incident. If the dog's owner was negligent in his or her care or handling of the dog, the owner faces significant liability for the victim's civil damages.

Dog Bite Statistics

Many may brush off a dog bite, not understanding the true injuries endured. However, many of these injuries lead to permanent physical and emotional scars. In fact, the insurance industry pays more that $1 billion dollars in dog bite claims each year. Here are a few other facts that you should know about canine bites:

  • About 800,000 canine bites require medical attention each year
  • Of the fatal dog attacks, 92% of the dogs involved were male and 94% of these males were not neutered
  • Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved dogs who were chained
  • Over 71% of canine bites occur to a victim's arms, legs, hands, and feet
  • 24% of deaths involved unrestrained dogs off their owner's property
Dog Tendencies

Dogs have a natural social hierarchy. If they aren't trained or controlled, they may try to dominate human beings or attack people who enter their homes. Children are especially vulnerable to dog attacks because they're closer to the ground, loud, fast, and unaware of the danger. California dog owners are legally liable for injuries their dogs cause while illegally running loose, but they may also be liable for bite injuries to people who are lawfully visiting their homes. An attorney can help clients sort out how the law applies in their cases.

Most people injured by a dangerous dog were attacked at the home of a friend or relative and may be reluctant to hire a California dog bite injury lawyer. In fact, homeowners' insurance covers these claims, so there's no need to worry that you're suing someone who cannot afford to pay. A legal claim ensures that victims get the medical care they need, including future follow-up care, as well as fair compensation for their injuries.

Safety Tips for handling Pooches 

Liability lies within the owners of dogs, but there are ways to stay safe, in the presence of an aggressive dog. Below are a few tips to follow and teach your children that can prevent dog attacks in California.

  1. Don't run past a dog without warning
  2. If a dog threatens you, don't scream
  3. Avoid eye contact with a dog
  4. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves
  5. Don't approach a dog that is confined
  6. When approaching a dog, let the dog see and sniff you hand before petting the animal
  7. If a dog is rapidly approaching you, place something between yourself and the dog (backpack, bicycle, etc.)
Winning your Dog Bite Lawsuit in Southern California 


After handling your immediate medical concerns, finding the right California dog bite attorney to handle your case is the best next step. The right lawyer can help you determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit against a negligent dog owner, your odds of success with your lawsuit, and the types of compensation you might expect if you win your case.

The experienced attorneys at the law firm of Miller Wilmers, APC have extensive experience with all types of personal injury claims in the Southern California area. We offer contingency fee billing to our clients to ensure we provide the best representation possible. Our clients do not pay us expenses or legal fees until we win their cases. Some clients may even be able to claim their legal fees as damages, making legal representation essentially free.

While the average person may assume that a canine bite lawsuit is open-and-shut and that he or she could save money on attorneys' fees by handling claims on their own, hiring an attorney not only offers a better chance of success with a lawsuit but typically leads to more compensation than a plaintiff could secure alone.

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