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California Dog Bite Lawyer


Dog bites can lead to serious injuries, and in California, victims of such incidents have the legal right to seek compensation. A specialized California dog bite lawyer plays a crucial role in navigating the complex legal landscape associated with these cases. These legal professionals are well-versed in the specific statutes and case law that govern dog bite claims in the state. They support victims by providing expert legal advice and represent their interests in court or through settlement negotiations.

California law provides a framework for holding pet owners accountable. This liability can be established based on the dog owner’s negligence or on a strict liability basis, depending on the circumstances. California dog bite lawyers evaluate the specifics of the incident to build a strong case aimed at securing appropriate compensation for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, don’t wait to seek legal help. Our experienced dog bite law is here to provide you with the support and guidance you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards getting the compensation you deserve. Your well-being is our top priority, and we are committed to fighting for your rights. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for expert assistance with your dog bite case.

Understanding California Dog Bite Law

California’s legislation provides clear directives regarding dog bite incidents, with specific provisions for victim compensation. The state follows a strict liability rule, making dog owners responsible in most cases of a bite.

Strict Liability and the Civil Code Section 3342

California’s dog bite statute, Cal. Civ. Code § 3342, imposes strict liability upon dog owners. This means that the victim of a dog bite is not required to prove that the owner acted negligently or had reason to know that the dog could be dangerous. Under California’s statute, the bite must have occurred while the victim was either in a public place or lawfully on private property. California’s courts have specified that the “bite” does not necessarily need to break the skin in order for the victim to be able to file a dog bite claim; for example, an owner could be responsible if the victim suffers nerve damage from the bite. However, an owner may not be responsible for the injuries if the victim was trespassing when the bite occurred, or if the victim provoked the dog to bite them. There is also an exception for bites caused by dogs in military or police work.

Strict Liability: Under the Civil Code Section 3342, a dog owner in California is liable for damages if their dog bites someone, regardless of the dog’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge of such behavior. This liability applies when the victim is in a public place or lawfully on private property.

Exceptions to Strict Liability:

  • The victim was trespassing unlawfully.
  • The dog was performing military or police work.
  • Provocation of the dog by the victim.

Legal Definitions and Duties of Dog Owners

Definitions of Key Terms:

  • Owner: The legal owner or caretaker of the dog at the time of the incident.
  • Lawfully on private property: The victim had a lawful right or invitation to be there, excluding trespassers.

Owners’ Legal Duties:

  • Prevent their dog from biting others in public or private spaces where the victim is lawfully present.
  • Take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm, including restraint or warning others of potential danger from the dog.

Common Defenses:

  • Owners may argue lack of knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness if not covered by the statute.
  • Potential reference to the “one bite rule”, which California does not formally follow, but may be discussed concerning owner knowledge in negligence cases.

The Rights of Dog Bite Victims

Victims of dog bites in California have specific legal rights that enable them to seek compensation for their injuries. These rights are enforced through personal injury laws that hold the dog owner liable for the damages their pet has caused.

Seeking Compensation for Bite Injuries

Dog bite victims have the right to pursue compensation for various damages sustained due to the injury. A dog bite lawyer can help navigate the legal process to recover funds for:

  • Medical expenses: Immediate and ongoing medical treatment costs.
  • Lost wages: Income lost due to time off work for recovery.
  • Pain and suffering: Physical and emotional discomfort resulting from the bite.
  • Emotional distress: Psychological impacts such as anxiety, depression, and trauma.

The compensation goal is to restore the victim to the financial position they were in prior to the incident.

Minor Victims and Parental Claims

In the case of minors, parents or legal guardians have the right to file claims on behalf of their injured children. They can seek damages for:

  • Medical expenses: Current and future medical care for their child.
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation due to the child’s physical and emotional pain.

Legal proceedings involving minors require special consideration and handling to ensure the child’s best interests are represented. A free consultation with a dog bite lawyer can provide guidance on these matters.

Personal Injury Case Process

In the context of a dog bite incident in California, the personal injury case process involves several structured steps designed to lead towards the recovery of damages. Each phase is crucial in establishing negligence and seeking appropriate compensation for the injury sustained.

Filing a Lawsuit and Court Procedures

Once an individual has chosen to pursue legal action after a dog bite, they, often through their personal injury lawyer, initiate the process by filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit involves several steps:

  1. Complaint Preparation:
    • Drafting a legal document that outlines the facts of the case, the basis for holding the defendant liable, and the damages requested.
  2. Service of Process:
    • The complaint must be legally delivered to the defendant, informing them of the action against them.
  3. Defendant’s Response:
    • The defendant, typically, has a limited time frame to respond, admitting or denying the allegations.
  4. Discovery:
    • Both parties exchange evidence and information. This can include:
      • Interrogatories (written questions)
      • Depositions (interviews under oath)
      • Requests for documents
  5. Pretrial Motions:
    • Legal arguments that may shape the case, such as motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment.

Throughout these procedures, the court facilitates and enforces the rules of the legal process, making sure each step is duly followed.

Settlement Negotiation and Trial

The majority of personal injury cases, including those involving dog bites, are often resolved through a settlement before reaching trial.

  • Settlement Negotiation:
    • This phase includes discussion between the plaintiff’s and defendant’s representatives, aiming to agree on compensation without the need for a trial. Factors that influence settlement include:
      1. Evidence of negligence
      2. The severity of the injury
      3. Impact on the victim’s life
      4. Total medical treatment and recovery costs
  • Trial:
    • If settlement negotiations do not yield an agreement, the case advances to trial. Here, the phases include:
      1. Jury Selection: (if a jury trial is chosen)
      2. Opening Statements: Each side outlines their case.
      3. Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination:
      4. Closing Arguments:
      5. Jury Deliberation: (if applicable)
      6. Verdict: The court’s (or jury’s) decision on liability and damages.

The plaintiff’s legal team aims to show that the defendant is responsible due to acts of negligence resulting in the dog bite. They must also demonstrate the extent of the injury and other damages to secure fair compensation. Personal injury lawyers play a pivotal role in navigating both the settlement and trial processes, providing their clients with legal expertise to maximize chances of recovery. If you need assistance with your dog bite case, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’ll make sure to get you the fair compensation you deserve.

Client Testimonials

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This was the easiest and best experience I've experienced with a law firm. They represented me aggressively and handled my case with finesse and diligence. I highly recommend anyone who is having any issues to reach out to Mike Agruss Law Firm. They WILL take care of you.


He went above and beyond

Mike called me on the weekend to answer a question I had emailed him on a Friday I wasn't expecting to hear from him until Monday. He went above and beyond anything I could have ever expected. Not only is he a excellent attorney he is also a kind, caring and a patient person. I was truly blessed by him, his paralegal, and this law firm.


Thank you everyone!

Yes this team is incredible. They were not only professional and intelligent and thorough, they demonstrated the highest level of care and compassion for what was otherwise a really demoralizing and confusing experience. My case was long and difficult and they kept me in the loop all along the way and brought it to excellent resolution. So grateful to their team especially Rachael who took my first flustered call on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to partner Jim who carried the case across the line. Oh, and they got a great settlement! Thank you everyone!


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I was injured and tried handling things on my own with insurance. My first call it was apparent they weren’t going to help me even though I wasn’t at fault. I was referred to Mike Agruss Law and the experience made what was a nightmare turn into an easy and peaceful experience. They handled everything for me and made sure my medical bills were paid, and I was compensated for loss of wages and more. I came to them in tears, shaken up, and scared. They comforted me and took care of me and my family. I can’t say thank you enough! Thank you, Rachael Mitchell, Jackie Laino, and Ryan Platt!!


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The attorneys at Agruss are attentive, hard-working, and genuinely care for their clients and their best interests. I have seen them work tirelessly to ensure the best outcome for clients. I highly recommend Mike Agruss and his staff.


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Mike Agruss is an extremely knowledgeable personal injury attorney who puts his client's best interests first. Whenever I reach out to him with questions, he always gets back to me right away, which is extremely refreshing when dealing with an attorney. I highly recommend him and his firm!


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