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.   


Call us at 855-LAWFIRM for a free consultation 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.

Related Topics:

  1. Does California's Dog Bite Statute Protect Dogs who are Attacked?
  2. Does California Require a Dog To Be Euthanized After It Bites Someone?
  3. Does California have a “One Bite Rule”?
  4. Does California Require a Dog To Be Quarantined After It Bites Someone?

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