What Is the Average Dog Bite Settlement Amount in California?
When a dog bites a person in California, that person may suffer both short- and long-term injuries, including physical and psychological harm, as a direct result.
Because the state of California maintains a strict liability rule for dog bite cases, holding that the owner of a dog that causes harm to another is liable for the damages that result regardless of knowledge of any former viciousness of the dog, the dog bite victim can file a claim for damages directly against the dog’s owner.
If you have been bitten by a dog in California and are wondering what the average dog bite settlement amount is and whether or not you should bother to file a claim, here’s what you should know--
Factors that Affect Dog Bite Settlement Amounts
If you meet with a lawyer and from the get-go and they promise you that you will recover a set dollar amount, and the said dollar amount sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Because a dog bite settlement can vary significantly depending upon the facts of the case, you shouldn’t hire an attorney who makes a promise about what you’re sure to get. Factors that affect dog bite settlement amounts include:
- Degree of injuries and cost of medical expenses. The most significant cost that you will face after being bitten by a dog will likely come in the form of medical expenses. The more serious your injuries, the more significant your expenses will likely be. Broken bones, infections, bites that require stitching, traumatic brain injuries, and more can all cost tens of thousands of dollars to treat. A person who does not have adequate health insurance or who has a high deductible may be especially affected by the costs of healthcare treatment.
- Disability and long-term harm. In addition to your medical expenses, you may also face other costs associated with a resulting disability or long-term harm. For example, if the dog bite injury prevents you from working, you may suffer lost wages. For some people, the injury may be so serious that they suffer a year’s worth of lost wages or more. Those who experience significant harm that is long-term may also incur costs in the form of rehabilitation and therapy expenses, mental health and psychological services, adjustments to living, and more. A person who suffers serious injuries may also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, the value of which may be directly influenced by a) extent of injuries and b) duration of pain and suffering.
- Insurance policy held by the dog owner. Even in a situation where injuries are serious, economic and noneconomic damages are great, and the liability of the dog owner is clear, whether or not the dog owner has liability insurance to pay for damages often has the largest effect on a dog bite case settlement. Most dog owners don’t have thousands of their own dollars to hand to a dog bite victim, and therefore rely on their homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy to cover damages. If no coverage exists, or the coverage isn’t enough, a dog bite victim may have to accept a settlement that is far less than what they deserve.
How You Can Improve the Outcome of Your Dog Bite Lawsuit Settlement Amount
While you cannot control the factors above, there are a few things that you can do to improve the outcome of your dog bite lawsuit. These include:
- Document the dog bite incident immediately, including writing down exactly what you were doing when the incident occurred, where the dog bite owner was at the time of attack, etc.;
- Report the dog bite to the local authorities or animal control immediately;
- Seek medical care - tell the treating physician that you were bitten by a dog and request a copy of your medical records;
- Get the dog owner’s name and contact information;
- Hire a lawyer immediately. The sooner that you hire a lawyer, the sooner that your attorney can begin working on your case, identifying sources of compensation, proving the dog owner’s liability, and calculating your damages.
Call Our California Dog Bite Lawyers Today
Dogs may be cute, cuddly, and loving, but
they can also be vicious, and may cause serious amounts of harm when they feel
threatened. When a dog attacks a person and that person is left with expenses
and noneconomic losses, a dog bite claim is appropriate. If you have questions
about how much your dog bite case may be worth, please call our law firm. We
will review your case free of charge and provide you with competent legal
advice. Reach us today online or by phone to request your free consultation and