Did you know that over 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year? That means that a dog bites approximately 1 out of 74 people in America each year.
However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s right. If a dog bites you, you can sue for damages, pain and suffering, and even loss of income.
Now, if you’re wondering, “how much can I sue for a dog bite?” Well, you’re in the right place; with this guide, you can find out! From the one bite rule to proving liability, you can learn all you need to know about a dog bite claim today.
Does California Follow the One-Bite Rule?
Many states like New Mexico, Texas, and Nevada practice what’s known as the one-bite rule. The one-bite rule basically gives a dog a free pass on its first bite or attack. It’s a way to protect the dog, especially if it’s young or still in training from punishment.
Although, this rule does not apply to all breeds. Breeds that are known to be more aggressive are exempt from this rule; that’s why the one-bite rule is practiced only on a case-by-case basis.
States that implement this rule generally don’t charge liability for dog bites unless the owner has previous knowledge that the dog has bitten another person or is dangerous. So, in other words, the dog owner can only be held responsible if it can be proven that they had knowledge about the dog’s past and, in their actions, were negligent in the accident.
However, California does not practice the one-bite rule. In fact, in California, dog owners can be held responsible for any type of attack, big or small.
Can You Sue For a Minor Dog Bite in California?
Absolutely! In California, you can sue whether a dog knocks you down, bites you, or attacks you. California practices what’s known as a strict liability to any dog owner. Meaning, that the dog owner is liable for any injuries even if the dog has shown no previous signs of aggression.
No matter how small or large the injury is, the pet owner is still responsible, and as a result, you may have grounds to obtain damages. For instance, even if you sustain a minor dog bite, it can lead to social anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health disorders.
That’s why it’s always important to have an evaluation done of all the damages. That way, you know the amount of expenses you’ve had to pay as a result of the injury. Pursuing a dog bite claim is the best way to recoup your losses and obtain a fair settlement.
What Are Compensatory Damages in a Dog Bite Settlement?
Compensatory damages are awarded as a form of payment to repay the victim for their medical bills, pain, and suffering, as well as loss of income. For instance, compensatory damages often cover the cost of the ambulance, any hospital visits, medication, physical therapy, and psychiatric care.
Now, pain and suffering are more difficult to measure. After all, how do you measure pain? Well, amounts vary depending on the severity of the bite, where the bite is located, and which state you live in.
You can also claim loss of income due to the inability to work during treatment and even the loss of future income due to the bite. To be rewarded this claim, you must provide proof such as your pay stubs, tax records, and overall earnings.
What Are Punitive Damages in a Dog Bite Case?
Punitive damages are a form of punishment. They’re typically assigned to repeat offenders or for continued negligent behavior.
The exact punishment depends on the case; however, punishment can be given either to the owner or the dog, depending on what the court decides. For example, the owner may have court-ordered community service, have to take a training class, or maybe be unable to purchase another dog for the next two to three years.
The court may also ban the owner from taking the dog to dog parks, dog beaches, and other events like dog runs. However, in severe cases, the dog may be ordered to be put down. Now, punitive damages are not taken lightly and often consider the safety of the public and what’s best for the dog’s quality of life.
How Much Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?
Settlements vary widely depending on the state and the case; however, the average settlement amount for a dog bite claim is around $50,000. However, if the victim sustains an injury to the face, has a large amount of scarring, or if a dog attacks a small child, the settlement can be well over $100,000 based on the damages caused.
For severe cases where there’s a loss of life or lifelong injuries, multi-million dollar settlements may be rewarded. So it’s beneficial to understand the facts of the case and how the injury will affect not only your life but your future. Your legal team will help you prepare a settlement amount that’s fair and justified.
How to Prove Liability
To prove liability, your legal team must establish that the injury that occurred was due to the negligence of the pet owner. Proving negligence requires certain evidence, which your legal must demonstrate in order to obtain your financial compensation. With that said, your legal team must prove the following:
- The defendant owned the dog
- The dog bite occurred in public or while the victim was on their private property
- The dog bite caused a physical or mental injury
- The dog bite had a great influence on that injury
Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Hiring a dog bite lawyer is the best way to win a dog bite claim. After all, as a client, you won’t have to gather evidence or prove your case.
Instead, you can recover from your injury in peace. While your legal team works tirelessly on your behalf, whether it be proving liability of the owner or helping negotiate a fair settlement. They’ll put your interests first to help you win a fair and plentiful settlement.
Now, for more information about how much can I sue for a dog bite, contact us today. We look forward to helping you!