What to do after a dog bite in California

People in the U.S. love their dogs. About 77.5 million dogs are kept as pets in the country, according to See California, and California is the state with the most dogs. Almost 40 percent of California households have a dog. California also has some of the most strict dog bite laws in the country, making dog owners responsible for injuries their dogs inflict when dogs bite. People should know California's dog bite laws and the steps they should take if they have suffered injuries as a result of a dog bite.

California Dog Owner Liability

In California, the law states that dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries that their dogs cause due to biting, as long as the dog bite victim was in a public place or lawfully on private property. This means that dog owners do not have to have any prior knowledge that their dogs have the propensity to bite people before the owners are held responsible for dog bites. Owners are also liable for dog bites even if they took steps to prevent the dog from biting others, such as putting up a fence, having the dog on a leash or posting a sign saying that the dog might be dangerous.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

Those who have been bitten by dogs should take the following steps to help ensure that they will receive proper compensation for their injuries:

  • Seek medical attention: Dog bites can lead to infection if left untreated. Serious dog bites may also require stitches or reconstructive surgery.
  • Document the Injury: Dog bite victims should get the names and addresses of witnesses to the event, as well as take pictures of the injury to record the extent of the damage.
  • File a police report: While some may hesitate to file a report with police for a dog bite - particularly if the owner is a friend - police reports are vital in establishing record of the incident and may be necessary for insurance claims or if the bite leads to litigation.
  • Seek legal representation: Dog bite victims should have the guidance of qualified personal injury attorneys. The attorney can help deal with the dog owner's insurance company to make sure the bite victim receives just and proper compensation for the injury and take the case to a trial if necessary.

For more information on dog bite laws, or if you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, contact a California dog bite lawyer.