Dog Bite Frequently-Asked Questions

Dog bites often happen very quickly and are unexpected.  Most dog bites happen unexpectedly because many people are unaware of the dog’s body language.  The Center for Disease Control reports that every year approximately 4.7 million people are bit in the United States.


How long does a dog bite claim take from beginning to end?

Every case is different and unique, and so this is a difficult question to answer. In most cases, you want to wait until the victim has finished his or her medical treatment and has recovered fully from the injury. However, once that has occurred, cases normally can be resolved within a few months (and sometimes sooner). At the Phillips Law Offices, we start working on the case from the first day, so we can expedite the claim once our client has finished treating.


What if the dog's owner is a friend or a relative?

Under California law, it does not matter that the owner of the dog is a friend, neighbor, or relative. The victim of a dog bite or attack is entitled to compensation regardless of who the owner of the dog is or who the responsible party is. This means, almost always, that we are dealing with insurance companies. However, we are mindful of long-term relationships that may exist, so this is something to discuss with your attorney.


What can be done to prevent the dog from attacking again?

The dog attack should be reported to the health department and animal control, especially if the dog is not identified and is on the loose (See "Actions After a Dog Bite"). All counties in California have county ordinances dealing with dangerous dogs and animals. Once animal control is notified, they will conduct an investigation and make a recommendation to the county prosecutor if they feel is appropriate. It is important to have an attorney assist the family of the dog bite victim at this stage of the investigation. If the dog is determined to be dangerous or vicious, the law requires that the owner take a number of protective steps and measures to protect the public.


Is the owner of an apartment complex responsible when a dog bites someone on the apartment property?

Generally, only the owner of the dog or the person responsible for controlling the dog is legally responsible for an attack. However, there are exceptions that are unique to the facts of a particular event and should be discussed in detail with an experienced dog bite lawyer.


What compensation can a dog bite victim receive for their injuries?

The victim of a dog bite is entitled for all actual damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket expenses. The victim is also entitled to compensation for any future medical bills and expenses. Additionally, there is compensation for "pain and suffering", especially if there is any disfigurement or scarring.


Should I sign an insurance company release or settle my claim without speaking to a dog bite attorney?

My opinion is, "Absolutely not!" It is generally always a good idea to talk to an attorney before signing any legal document. Since most attorneys do not charge for the initial consultation, it will not cost you anything. In our experience, insurance companies often offer less money then the claim is worth, especially if the victim does not have an attorney. Most attorneys will give you an honest appraisal of your situation and explain your rights and options.


Should I Talk with a Dog Bite Lawyer ?

The simple truth is that insurance companies will go great lengths to deny any responsibility, then after delays, "low ball" any settlement offer. The insurance company is not on your side and not looking out for you or your family's best interest. While not every dog bite incident requires a lawyer, it is always a good idea to talk with one before making any important decisions.

WHAT THE BIG PRINT GIVETH, THE SMALL PRINT TAKETH AWAY: This content is intended for educational purposes only. Phillips Law Offices is authorized to practice law only in California and the above content is intended for California residents only. This content provides only general information, which may or may not reflect current legal developments and you are advised to directly speak with an attorney who is familiar with all the facts and circumstances of your specific case and relevant laws. Phillips Law Offices expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any of the contents of this website. The above content DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship and the Phillips Law Offices does not represent you unless you have expressly retained us in writing.