Dog bite lawsuit: Do I need an attorney?

A dog-bite lawyer is responsible for managing and prosecuting your case.  He or she investigates the facts, files a lawsuit, and helps the victim collect damages for his or her losses and injuries.  

California's dog-bite statute is Section 3342 of the California Civil Code.  This strict liability statute provides compensation to a dog-bite victim for his or her damages.  To recover under the statute, the dog-bite victim must be bitten on public property or lawfully on private property.  Additionally, the lawsuit must be filed within the mandated statute of limitations, or two (2) years from the date the injury occurred. 

A dog-bite attorney will help you efficiently navigate the legal system and handle common obstacles associated with filing a lawsuit.

Below, our experienced California personal injury attorneys address the process of filing a dog bite cause-of-action: 

1. What is the role of a California dog-bite attorney? 

 Investigate the Facts

A dog bite attorney's role begins before the lawsuit is filed.  An experienced dog-bite attorney must investigate the incident so he or she has a firm understanding of the case.  This includes interviewing witnesses, obtaining copies of medical records, and gathering photos and reports of the injury.  Once all of this information is gathered, the attorney determines a budget, strategy, and his or her client's odds of success at trial. 

Send a Demand Letter 

A demand letter is a letter sent to a dog owner or his or her insurance company advising them of the incident and requesting compensation for your injuries. The demand letter begins the negotiating process.  An aggressive dog-bite attorney will try to settle the matter before he or she files a lawsuit.  

File the Lawsuit 

If negotiations fail, your dog-bite attorney will file the lawsuit.  During the litigation process, he or she will also prepare the paperwork, attend the hearings, and prepare a trial strategy to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. 

2. How much does it cost to hire a dog-bite lawyer in California? 

A dog-bite attorney is paid on a contingency fee basis.  In a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer only gets paid when you get paid. The typical terms of a contingency fee arrangement dictate that the attorney will take one-third (1/3) of the settlement or judgment amount as payment.  

Example:  Mark sues Holly for injuries caused by her dog Max.  A jury awards Mark $1,200.00 for his injuries and expenses.  Mark's attorney is entitled to $400.00, or one-third (1/3) of Mark's judgment, as payment for his services.  

However, an attorney working on a contingency basis might still require a reimbursement for additional costs and expenses, since these charges would otherwise come out of the attorney's pocket.  In most cases, the contingency arrangement only covers the attorneys time. 

3. Why is it important to hire a California dog-bite attorney? 

A dog-bite attorney is the most efficient route to obtaining a settlement in your favor.  There are some aspects of the legal procedure that are simply foreign to a non-lawyer. For example, attorneys understand how to:

  • properly file documents,
  • handle legal procedure,
  • handle jurisdictional issues,
  • develop a case strategy,
  • argue the case law,
  • value a case, and  
  • suppress evidence.  

All of these factors play a significant role in obtaining successful results in your case.

An experienced California dog bite lawyer can also help you refute a defense based on California's "assumption of the risk" doctrine

Situations in which "assumption of the risk" applies include when:

  • A dog exhibits warning signs of aggression but the victim interacts with the animal anyway, or
  • The victim works with dogs professionally (California's so-called "Veterinarian's Rule," which applies to vets, kennel workers, groomers, dog walkers, and others who are paid to work with canines).

Bitten by a dog in California? Call us for help...

If you or someone you love was injured by a dog in California, we invite you to contact one of our California dog bite lawyers for a free consultation.

Call us at 855-LawFirm to speak in confidence with one of our experienced California personal injury attorneys.

We have offices throughout California, including in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, San Diego and Riverside Counties, as well as Central and Northern California.

We also have offices in Las Vegas and Reno if you were bitten by a dog in Nevada.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

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Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

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Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370