If you or somebody you care about has been bitten and injured by another person’s dog, then you are probably wondering whether or not you are owed compensation. Dog bites are not uncommon in the US. Studies show that there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites each year in this country. While not all of these bites cause serious injuries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that nearly one in five people bitten requires medical attention. Children make up approximately half of all dog bite cases.
Who pays for dog bite injuries?
In California, dog owners cannot escape liability for an injury their dog causes if they bite somebody else. Under the state’s “strict liability” dog bite rules, the dog owner is responsible for all damages resulting from the dog bite, even if the dog has never bitten a person before. Under California’s dog bite law, the dog owner is liable for damages if a person’s injuries:
- Were caused by a dog bite, and
- They were bitten in a public place or a private place they were lawfully allowed to be.
It is important to note that these dog bite laws only cover injuries that happen due to a bite. If a dog causes an injury in another way, such as scratching somebody with their nails or knocking a person over, California’s negligence rules apply. This means that the injured person would have to show that the dog owner failed to take reasonable steps to secure their dog.
In most cases, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the incident. However, some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain dog breeds that are categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls and rottweilers.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowner’s insurers paid approximately $675 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries during the latest reporting year. They say that there were 17,297 total claims made in 2018.
The average settlement paid out to injury victims in a dog bite injury case was $39,017 in 2018. California has continually had the largest number of claims in the United States. In 2018, there were 2,166 total insurance payouts across the state. California also had the highest average cost per claim – $45,543.
Dog bite injuries can be serious
Dog bite injuries can be serious. Dogs have very powerful jaws, and it is not uncommon for a dog bite injury lawyer in California to help clients suffering from the following:
- Severe damage to soft tissue
- Broken bones
- Finger amputations
- Severed ligaments, veins, arteries, and tendons
These injuries often lead to severe disfigurement and scarring. It is not uncommon for dog bite victims to experience emotional and psychological trauma, as well as their physical injuries, due to the incident.
California dog bite statute of limitations
Each state is responsible for putting a time limit on how long an injury victim has to file a personal injury claim. These statutes of limitations apply to dog bite incidents. In California, a dog bite victim has two years from the date the injury occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. After this two-year statute of limitations expires, the court will most likely dismiss a case without hearing it. To learn more about your legal options for compensation from a dog bite, speak with a personal injury attorney.