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Why Insurance Matters When You Have a Dog

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

California dog owners can be held liable if their dog bites someone. Dog bite victims often hire Los Angeles dog bite accident attorneys to file a dog bite claim against the dog owner. If the dog owner does not have insurance coverage to pay the claim, the dog owner could be personally liable for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. 

What Is California’s Law for Dog Bite Claims?

Some states have what is referred to as a “one-bite rule.” Under the one-bite rule, you must prove that the dog owner knew or should have reasonably known the dog had a propensity to bite or injure some. California does not subscribe to the one-bite rule.

Instead, California follows a strict liability rule for dog bite claims. The law states that a dog owner is liable for damages if their dog bites someone who is lawfully in or in a public or private place. The dog does not need to be vicious or have ever bitten someone for the dog owner to be liable for damages. 

The statute only applies to the dog owner and dog bites. It does not apply to people who might have control over a dog or other injuries caused by a dog. 

General negligence could apply in some dog bite cases. Negligence is failing to behave with a level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would use in a similar situation. Proving negligence in a dog bite case requires you to prove the following:

  • The dog’s owner owed you a duty of care
  • The dog owner’s actions or inactions breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the dog bite
  • And you sustained injuries and damages 

Unlike strict liability, you must prove the dog owner is guilty of negligence to hold them liable for damages.

The Role of Insurance Companies in Dog Bite Accident Cases

1. Coverage for the Dog Owner: Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies often cover dog bites. This ensures victims can receive compensation without the dog owner paying directly.

2. Negotiating Settlements: Insurance companies have their own legal teams to evaluate and negotiate claims. Their aim is to minimize the payout, making it essential for victims to have experienced representation.

3. Mediation and Litigation: If no settlement is reached, the case might proceed to mediation or trial. The insurance company will defend the dog owner, presenting evidence and arguments.

4. Payment of Claims: After a settlement or judgment, the insurance company handles the claim payment, ensuring timely compensation to the victim.

5. Protection for Dog Owners: Insurance acts as a financial safety net for dog owners, preventing potential financial hardships from out-of-pocket payments.

What Should I Do if I Am Bitten by a Dog?

Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Prompt medical care could prevent infections and other complications. Report the dog bite to the authorities and the dog owner as soon as possible.

Keep a record of your damages, including medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and other economic damages. Also, take pictures of your injuries and keep detailed notes about how the dog bite impacted your daily life to support a claim for non-economic damages.

Depending on the cause of action you claim for a dog bite case, you could have one to two years to file your claim. However, some exceptions change the statute of limitations in some cases. It is always in your best interest to talk with a California dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact Our Los Angeles Dog Bite Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation 

Has a dog bitten you or your child? If so, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced attorney. Let us help you pursue a case against the negligent dog owner responsible for your injuries.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.